Dubai more than doubles international visitor numbers in first 10 months of 2022

Emirate welcomed 11.4 million overnight visitors between January and October, with the highest number of international guests from India at 1.4 million

Tourists outside the The Dubai Mall. The emirate's tourism sector has maintained a strong performance in 2022, say analysts. Bloomberg
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Dubai hosted 11.4 million overnight international visitors in the first 10 months of the year, up 134 per cent from the same period in 2021, according to government statistics.

The emirate's 10-month performance is 15 per cent below the 13.5 million international visitors it hosted in the same period of 2019 before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to data by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism.

"Dubai’s tourism sector has maintained its strong performance in 2022 and has picked up pace as the final quarter of the year begins," Jamal Mattar, research analyst at Emirates NBD, said in a research note.

The 15 per cent difference in visitor numbers between the first 10 months of 2022 and 2019 has been largely consistent throughout the year as the global travel industry has yet to fully recover from the effects of the pandemic and as China ― one of the top five sources of visitors pre-Covid ― pursued a zero-Covid strategy that limited the number of Chinese visitors to the emirate, Mr Mattar added.

Dubai aims to host 40 million hotel guests in 2031 and push the tourism sector's contribution to GDP to Dh450 billion ($122.5 billion) by that year. It aims to achieve this through increasing annually by Dh27 billion.

India was Dubai's top source market in the first 10 months of 2022 with 1.4 million visitors, up 116 per cent from the same period last year.

Oman followed with 1.1 million visitors, Saudi Arabia with 993,000 and the UK with 832,000.

Russia rounded up the top five with a 76 per cent year-on-year increase in overnight international visitors to 548,000.

The number of visitors from Israel jumped 239 per cent in the January to October period to 171,000, placing it 14th in 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 to Dubai at 22 per cent, followed closely by Western Europe at 20 per cent, South Asia with 17 per cent and Mena with 12 per cent.

The jump in tourist arrivals kept Dubai's hotels busy with occupancy during the year through to October rising to 71.5 per cent, up from 63.7 per cent in the same period of 2021, but below the 73.8 per cent occupancy levels in the first 10 months of 2019.

"Average occupancy in year-to-date October 2022 was only 2.4 percentage points less than pre-pandemic levels despite the 18 per cent increase in room inventory," the DET said.

Revenue per available room, a hospitality industry performance metric, reached Dh362 in the first 10 months of 2022, above the Dh245 in the same period last year and the Dh295 in January-October of 2019.

"Tourism numbers for Dubai tend to peak in the November to January period, and the hospitality sector will likely be buoyed by the Fifa World Cup in Qatar already under way, particularly in the months of November and December," Mr Mattar said.

However, in the latest PMI survey for Dubai in November, the travel and tourism sector index fell to 53.2, the lowest reading since January.

"Whilst there may be an improvement in December with the World Cup under way, the PMI survey points to softening sentiment for the upcoming year, as the effects of tighter monetary policy and slower global growth weigh on the sector," Mr Mattar said.

Updated: December 15, 2022, 12:45 PM