Economic momentum sets up Dubai’s tourism sector for robust growth

Launch of mega projects in the UAE is supporting sector's rapid expansion, keeping it on track to achieve long-term growth targets

Tourism remains at the heart of the emirate’s growth ambitions and it set to be a major contributor to the Dubai Economic Agenda D33. Reem Mohammed / The National
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The economic momentum carried forward from last year and the launch of mega projects in Dubai have set the emirate up for robust growth in the tourism sector this year, putting it on track to achieve its long-term growth objectives.

The tourism industry remains at the front and centre of the emirate’s growth ambitions and is set to be a major contributor to the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, the Dubai Media Office said on Friday.

“Dubai’s ability to simultaneously leverage new opportunities and industry trends whilst navigating the impact of global challenges has made it one of the world’s most attractive and fastest-growing tourism and economic cities,” Helal Almarri, director general of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, said.

“With a unique and diverse tourism proposition, diversified market strategy, world-leading urban infrastructure, inclusive and cohesive public-private partnership ecosystem and high safety and security, Dubai continues to be the preferred choice for global travellers.”

The tourism industry in Dubai, the commercial and leisure hub of the Middle East, started the year on a bright note with vital growth indicators closing in on pre-pandemic levels that gives the emirate a head start in achieving its targets over the next decade.

The tourism sector, an important pillar of the emirate's economy, has strongly rebounded from the coronavirus-induced slowdown. Dubai International Airport remained the world's busiest international hub for passengers last year for the ninth year in a row, as long-haul travel demand surged, rankings by the Airports Council International showed in April.

The emirate recorded 14.36 million international visitors in 2022, inching closer to the 16.73 million tourists in 2019, according to DET statistics.

It now aims to exceed the pre-pandemic annual number of international visitors this year, after the emirate recorded a 17 per cent increase in the tourist numbers in the first quarter of 2023, Issam Kazim, chief executive of the Dubai Department for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), told The National during the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai on Monday.

Dubai hosted 4.67 million overnight visitors in the three months to the end of March, compared to 3.97 million tourists during the same period in 2022, the DET data showed.

Growth of the tourism industry is also supported by the robust economic momentum in the emirate.

Business activity in Dubai's non-oil private sector economy hit a five-month high in March as output expanded on stronger increases in both jobs and inventories, with growth rates reaching multiyear records.

Dubai's economy expanded by 4.6 per cent on an annual basis in the first nine months of 2022, according to data from the emirate's statistics centre.

Emirates NBD estimates Dubai's full-year 2022 growth at 5 per cent and expects the emirate’s GDP to grow by 3.5 per cent in 2023.

With public and private sector players rolling out a series of mega projects and major global hospitality brands making a beeline to invest in the emirate, the tourism sector is expected to grow at a rapid pace.

In 2022, the emirate’s tourism sector contributed $29.4 billion to its economy, the media office said, citing the World Travel and Tourism Council data.

Dubai’s plans for tourism growth also support the national strategy launched in November last year by to attract Dh100 billion in additional tourism investments and receive 40 million hotel guests in 2031.

Recent investments have also led to the growth of Dubai’s hotel stock to 148,877 rooms in 814 hotels compared to 118,039 rooms in 717 hotels in 2019, a rise of 26 per cent and 14 per cent respectively, the media office said.

Another 8,000 rooms are expected to be delivered by the end of 2023, it said, citing KPMG data.

Updated: May 05, 2023, 3:01 PM