Dubai tourist arrivals edge up 10.6% in first half

First half figure crosses the 8 million mark with most traffic coming from Western Europe

India, Saudi Arabia and the UK retained their positions as top three source markets for Dubai tourist arrivals in the first half. Sarah Dea / The National

Dubai received a record number of first half visitors, which rose 10.6 per cent year-on-year, with the India, Saudi Arabia and the UK retaining their top three ranks, said Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing on Sunday.

Over 8 million overnight visitors arrived in Dubai in the first half of the year, with Western Europe taking the lead as a region and accounting for 21 per cent of total numbers, the department said.

India maintained its No. 1 ranking, with tourists from the Asian country crossing the million mark for the first time for a six-month period. The UK market stabilised, while Saudi visitors inched up 4 per cent year-on-year.

Visa-free travel for Chinese and Russian travellers helped numbers soar in the first half, with numbers growing 55 per cent to 413,000 and 97 per cent to 233,000 respectively.

Oman, which has the second-highest volume from the Arabian Gulf states after Saudi Arabia, was the only top 10 country to witness a decline, with numbers falling 30 per cent. The Gulf region represented 19 per cent of arrivals and South Asia 18 per cent.

Meanwhile, Dubai’s hotel room supply increased 5 per cent to more than 104,000 rooms from 676 establishments at the end of June, compared with the same period last year.

Hotel and hotel apartment recorded an average occupancy level in the first half of 79 per cent, a 1 per cent increase from a year-earlier period.

“Our strategic investments, innovative destination promotion programmes, responsive federal policy reforms, and long-term global partnerships are evidently paying dividends as we ramp up efforts to increase Dubai’s accessibility, visibility and overall appeal, minimise barriers to travel, and ultimately drive both first-time and repeat visitation,” said Helal Almarri, director general of Dubai Tourism.

Dubai, which is targetting 20 million tourist arrivals by 2020, has been ranked one of the top three cities of the world that receive the most tourists in comparison to its population size. 
The emirate attracts 15.3 million international visitors with a resident population of 2.7 million, marking a 459 per cent increase each year, according to research released by On The Go Tours.