Dubai international visitors almost triple in first 7 months of 2022 to surpass 2021 total

Emirate is expected to match pre-pandemic visitor numbers by end of year

Expo 2020 Dubai played a significant role in boosting Dubai's tourism sector. AFP
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Dubai welcomed about 8.1 million international visitors in the first seven months of 2022, an almost threefold increase compared to a year ago and surpassing the total for all of 2021.

The emirate, whose tourism sector has recovered significantly in the post-Covid era, hosted 7.28 million visitors in 2021.

It came close to eclipsing that total at the end of June when it welcomed 7.12 million visitors in the first half of 2022, data from Dubai Economy and Tourism (DET) show.

The year-to-date performance puts Dubai in position to possibly match the 16.73 million visitors it welcomed in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic struck.

The emirate already beat its 2020 total of 5.51 million in May when it received 6.17 million visitors.

The GCC was the top source region for international visitors to the emirate in July, accounting for 23 per cent, followed by Western Europe, (21 per cent), South Asia (16 per cent), the wider Mena (12 per cent) and Russia, CIS and Eastern Europe (11 per cent), it added.

On a country basis, India was the biggest source market, with an estimated 975,000, followed by Oman (880,000), Saudi Arabia (678,000), the UK (568,000) and Russia (348,000).

In terms of year-on-year growth, Oman posted the biggest surge, growing more than 12 times.

Tourism is one of the key pillars of Dubai's economy, but like the global industry, it slowed down substantially because of the pandemic.

The sector's rebound has been running in parallel with its economy, which has bounced back from the effects of the health crisis.

The recovery has been attributed to government initiatives that included the enactment of safety measures and an aggressive vaccination campaign.

The momentum generated by Expo 2020 Dubai was also key for the sector's recovery, attracting tens of millions of visitors during the six months it was open.

Dubai's SmartGate airport system makes travel hassle free

Dubai's SmartGate airport system makes travel hassle free

The UAE also expects to see a “strong tourism recovery” this winter, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said this week.

The country is also gearing up for an influx of guests for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar, which will begin in November. The quadriennal event is expected to boost traffic to Al Maktoum International Airport as it handles an additional 30 return flights to Doha during the global sporting event.

In addition, the resurgence of the aviation sector also significantly contributed to tourism growth. The UAE was among the first countries to be successful in reopening their borders, which allowed economic sectors to resume their activities.

Monthly passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest international airport, is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023, and a full recovery is within sight earlier than expected.

Dubai Duty Free also already surpassed its 2021 total last month, with sales more than doubling to $1.06 billion in the first eight months of 2022.

Business activity in the emirate's non-oil private sector economy, meanwhile, climbed to a 38-month high in August as demand growth strengthened and input costs fell at a record pace, the S&P Global Purchasing Managers' Index showed last week.

The DET data showed that revenue per available room, a key metric for the hospitality industry, was at Dh386 in through July, up 72 per cent from last year and about a quarter from 2019.

The average length of stay was 4.1 nights, down 14 per cent from last year but up 18 per cent from 2019, it added.

The overall occupancy rate in the first seven months of 2022 was 72 per cent, compared to 61 per cent last year and 74 per cent in 2019, the data showed.

There were about 141,000 available rooms in 774 establishments during the seven-month period, both of which are up about 9 per cent from last year's at 129,318 and 718, respectively, it added.

Compared to 2019, available rooms were up 19 per cent and the number of establishments rose 9 per cent, Dubai Tourism said.

Updated: September 15, 2022, 4:29 PM