Dubai’s tourism back on track

Data released by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism at the ongoing Arabian Travel Market 2022 (9 May-12 May) highlighted a 214% year-on-year increase in international visitors during Q1 2022, marking the best first quarter performance since the pandemic

Dubai has topped another global ranking, taking the top spot in hotel occupancy at 82 % in the first quarter of 2022.

Showcasing a successful tourism strategy, Dubai welcomed 3.97m international overnight visitors between January and March 2022, up from 1.27m visitors during the same period last year, according to data released by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).

The Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said: “Dubai’s ability to surpass other major global cities in key tourism indicators demonstrates the success of the far-reaching vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to create a hub for business, investment, entrepreneurship, and tourism that rivals the world’s best.

“The strength of Sheikh Mohammed’s vision and his steadfast determination to make it a reality have enabled Dubai to overcome the most complex global challenges, including the repercussions of the recent worldwide health crisis, to create a destination that offers rich value for travellers whether they are visiting for leisure or business.”

According to the DET data, the number of visitors during the first quarter of 2022 reflected the best Q1 performance since the global pandemic, creating a clear pathway for the city to progress towards its goal of becoming the world’s most visited destination.

Sheikh Hamdan added: “The exceptional number of visitors in the first three months of the year is testament to the fact that Dubai is at the forefront of global tourism recovery. These results attest to the emirate’s ability to develop a compelling new value proposition in a changed global environment and create innovative new offerings that meet the needs and preferences of the most discerning global travellers.

“In addition, the vast global diversity of its visitors reflects Dubai’s appeal as a destination that cuts across nationalities, regions and continents, and its growing status as a city that bridges global markets and cultures.”

March 2022 was a particularly exceptional month for post-pandemic tourism arrivals, as the city welcomed 1.78m international visitors, a 11% increase over pre-pandemic visitation.

The director general of the DET, Helal Saeed Almarri, said “The hugely successful  Expo 2020 Dubai, alongside a compelling portfolio of leisure and business events in the first three months of this year, has firmly placed the city on the world stage, while reinforcing Dubai’s position as a global economy and tourism hub.”

Almarri added: “Since leading global tourism recovery with the reopening of the city to international travellers in July 2020, Dubai has only gone from strength to strength, building on the momentum year on year by carefully calibrating a multi-pronged approach with the support of our valued ecosystem of stakeholders and partners to ensure the city remains open, safe and accessible. With our result-oriented strategy becoming a role model for recovery, we are delighted to welcome the world as it yearns to be a part of Dubai’s successful tourism journey.

Dubai’s traditional source markets delivered impressive tourism volumes in the first quarter. Regional markets continued to make an impact on international visitation, further underscoring the success of the emirate’s diversified multi-geographic strategy.

MENA and GCC collectively contributed to 35 % of the total volumes, reflecting Dubai’s continued appeal to travellers from proximity markets. Catering to the family-dominated GCC tourists were a host of attractions, retail, sporting and entertainment events. Western Europe accounted for 24 % of the emirate’s tourism arrivals, while South Asia accounted for 14 % of total international visitation.

Continued domestic and international investment into the sector helped further boost hotel inventory, with an 8 % increase in the number of hotel establishments and 10 % growth in the number of rooms compared to the corresponding period in 2021. In the first three months of 2022, hotels achieved average occupancy levels of 82 %, which is almost on par with the occupancy levels of 84 % for the same period in 2019. In terms of hotel occupancy, the emirate ranked No.1 globally in Q1 2022, ahead of other international destinations including London (56.0 %), New York (55.3 %) and Paris (51.2 %), according to data from hotel management analytics firm STR.

Dubai remains committed to maintaining its position as one of the safest destinations in the world, with the UAE being one of the most vaccinated nations with more than 97 % of the population vaccinated and achieving No.3 position globally in Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking.