Dubai's tourist numbers hit 85% of pre-Covid levels in first 11 months of 2022

Emirate hosted more than 12 million visitors between January and November, twice as many in the same period last year

Dubai residents and tourists take the Abra boat to cross the Dubai Creek from the Bur Dubai Souk to the Gold Souq. Victor Besa/The National
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Dubai hosted 12.82 million overnight international visitors in the first 11 months of the year, more than 85 per cent of the pre-coronavirus levels during the same period in 2019.

The emirate's 11-month performance is also more than double 6.02 million people who visited the city in the same period in 2021, data from Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism showed.

The figures from January to November are 3.91 million visitors shy of its full-year 2019 performance of 16.73 million tourists.

Last month, the UAE launched a national tourism strategy to attract 40 million hotel guests by 2031 as it seeks to draw more people to live, work, invest and retire in the country.

India was Dubai's top source market during the reporting period, with 1.64 million visitors, up 106 per cent annually.

Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UK and Russia rounded off the top five markets.

The number of visitors from Oman jumped 449 per cent to 1.2 million, followed by Saudi Arabia (up 185 per cent to 1.1 million), the UK (up 198 per cent to 938,000) and Russia (73 per cent higher at 647,000).

The number of visitors from Israel jumped 157 per cent in the period to 199,000, ranking it 14th on a list of Dubai's top 20 source markets, after the signing of the Abraham Accords.

In terms of regions, tourist arrivals from the GCC made up the largest source of visitors, at 21 per cent, followed by western Europe (20 per cent), South Asia (17 per cent) and the Mena region (12 per cent).

Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States followed with 11 per cent.

The jump in tourist arrivals kept Dubai's hotels busy, with occupancy during rising to 73 per cent from January to November, up from 66 per cent in the same period of 2021 but below the 75 per cent recorded in the same period in 2019.

“Average occupancy in year-to-date November 2022 only was only 2.3 percentage points less than pre-pandemic levels, despite the 17 per cent increase in room inventory,” the department said.

Dubai has 794 hotels with 145,098 available rooms.

Revenue per available room or RevPAR, a hospitality industry performance metric, stood at Dh378 in the first 11 months of 2022, more than Dh275 and Dh303 for the same periods in 2021 and 2019, respectively.

Dubai's tourism industry is taking a more “nimble” approach to its pricing and providing cheaper hotel options in response to the challenging global economic conditions that are tightening the budgets of travellers, the emirate's tourism chief said earlier this month.

The appetite for travel to Dubai “is still there”, with the emirate tapping into new and diversified source markets, Issam Kazim, chief executive of the Dubai Department for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, told reporters on the sidelines of the Skift Global Forum East held in Dubai.

However, the emirate is taking a strategic approach by offering the “right price and the right product” to capitalise on that demand, he said.

Updated: December 29, 2022, 12:41 PM
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