Dubai welcomed 5.1 million visitors in the first four months of 2022, as the emirate continues to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was more than a threefold increase compared with the same period in 2021, when the emirate welcomed 1.67 million overnight visitors.
Hotel occupancy in the emirate stood at 76 per cent during the period, the Dubai Media Office said on Twitter.
The easing up of pandemic restrictions worldwide and the hosting of Dubai Expo 2020 led to a sharp rise in tourist arrivals this year.
In the first quarter, the emirate welcomed 3.97 million international overnight visitors, up 214 per cent annually, according to data from Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism.
The emirate was also ranked first worldwide in terms of hotel occupancy rates during the first three months of 2022, at 82 per cent, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, said in a tweet last month.
Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest in terms of international passenger traffic, also recorded its busiest quarter since 2020 in the first quarter.
Passenger traffic more than doubled to 13.6 million travellers, from 5.7 million in the same quarter a year ago, Dubai Airports said.
In May, the airport operator also raised its annual passenger traffic forecast for 2022 to 58.3 million, from an earlier projection of 57 million.
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The strong growth in the tourism sector has boosted growth in the emirate, with business activity in the non-oil private sector economy surging to its strongest level in 35 months in May, according to the S&P Global Dubai Purchasing Managers' Index.
Travel and tourism outperformed the wholesale and retail trade sector and construction in recent months, expanding at a near-three-year high in May, Emirates NBD, Dubai's largest lender, said in a note on Thursday.
In the first four months of this year, Oman emerged as the biggest source market for Dubai, with 590,000 visitors arriving in the emirate, the bank said.
“This is up hugely compared to the pandemic-affected 2021 period [30,000] but also pre-pandemic 2019, when Oman was in fifth place with 356,000,” it said.
India, the UK, Saudi Arabia and Russia accounted for the rest of the top five source markets during the period.
While visitors numbers from these destinations have made a sharp recovery, they remain down on 2019 levels, the bank said.
“It is worth bearing in mind that the start of the year saw the Omicron wave of Covid-19 infections limit travel once again and this has weighed on the sector,” the report said.
“As the threat from the virus has receded in the face of vaccinations and higher immunity levels, most countries have eased any remaining limits on travel in the subsequent months and Dubai has benefitted as a result.”
However, with China still pursuing a zero-Covid strategy, this will continue to have an impact on Dubai’s tourism sector for as long as it is in force, the bank said.
Over the first four months of 2019, 369,000 people visited Dubai from China, making it the fourth-largest source of visitors.