Dubai welcomed 15.92 million international overnight visitors in 2018, marking a new high according to the latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).
Continuing to expand its appeal as a global destination of choice for another year running, Dubai’s top source markets delivered bankable performances with several strategic feeders witnessing standout double-digit growth yet again to continue momentum towards growing the number of international visitors annually.
This is in line with Dubai’s Tourism Vision 2022-2025, in addition to driving even greater economic impact on the emirate’s GDP.
His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai Tourism commented: “Guided by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Department remains focused on ensuring that Dubai becomes the number one most visited city in the world in line with Dubai’s Tourism Strategy 2022-25.
“As such, throughout 2018, we developed and deployed a custom-market specific approach to our global outreach programmes to deeper penetrate our target markets and widen the sphere of influence and engagement with the Dubai proposition.
“Exposing our industry to new potential in order to convert a higher share of the dynamically evolving global outbound travel market has helped steady Dubai’s base tourism volumes throughout last year.
“Our strategic investments, innovative destination promotion programmes, responsive federal policy reforms, and long-term global partnerships – all backed by the tremendous support of our stakeholders across the government and private sector – continue to yield strong results.”
Traditional strongholds have retained their affinity for the city’s destination proposition, with India once again crossing the two million mark and maintaining its number one position at the end of 2018.
This has been fuelled by strong business partnerships with key industry leaders and national publications like TOI across India, and tailored destination-focused campaigns, such as multi-award-winning #BeMyGuest, a collaboration with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, as well as highly targeted seasonal activations to resonate with a diverse range of Indian audiences.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) came in a strong second, remaining the highest traffic volume generator for the GCC, with 1.6 million visitors, representing a steady 3 per cent year-on-year growth, thanks to customised activations including specialised city-wide activities and promotions for KSA National Day celebrations – all especially designed to attract visitors from the Kingdom.
The UK, meanwhile, also retained its third place slot with an impressive 1.2 million British travellers visiting the city in 2018 – testament to Dubai’s enduring popularity in the market, despite Brexit conversations impacting overall outbound travel and consumption sentiment from the country.
Experiencing impressive encore performances with double-digit growth to maintain their strength within the top ten feeder markets, China, Russia and Germany continued their upward trajectory in 2018.
The USA came in as the seventh top source market with 656,000 visitors in 2018 representing an increase of four per cent while the Philippines entered the top 10 for the very first time with 387,000 tourists to Dubai.
From a regional perspective, Western Europe emerged as the largest contributor of overnight visitor volumes for 2018, commanding a 21 per cent share, to maintain its pole position from 2017.
This was closely followed by the GCC and South Asia, contributing 18 and 17 per cent of all international visitation to the city respectively. North Asia and South-East Asia regions accounted for 11 per cent to reflect sustainable growth aided by Dubai Tourism’s international diversification strategy.
Dubai’s hospitality sector continued to make further strides in expanding its offering to match the evolving needs of visitors, both in terms of scale and breadth.
The hotel sector observed an eight per cent growth over a 12-month period versus 2017, with the total number of hotel and hotel apartments keys reaching 115,967 across 716 establishments.
With average occupancy reaching 76 per cent, occupied room nights were up to 30.13 million, while guests’ average length of stay remained unchanged at 3.5 nights.
Reflecting the city’s ability to further drive engagement amongst first-time and repeat international visitors, Dubai has continued to deliver an expanding variety of experiential offerings that serve as important levers in driving GDP contribution across the leisure segment.
The latest in destination offerings for 2018 included the Dubai Frame, a one-of-a-kind structure with a 360-degree view of the city, showing the past and present through views of both old and new Dubai.
The emirate will soon be opening doors to the UAE’s first national park, Al Marmoum, the largest tourism project of its kind in the region that focuses on the desert environment.
His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, concluded: “As we work towards future-proofing Dubai’s tourism-linked economy by fostering exceptional visitor experiences, we are committed to further empowering our public and private sectors to develop strategic programmes that can truly adapt to dynamic traveller needs.”