Dubai welcomed a record 17 million international visitors in 2023

Emirate reports best-ever annual tourism performance, exceeding 2019 figure, amid continued expansion of its economy

Tourism drove growth that saw Dubai's economy expand by an annual 3.3 per cent in the first nine months of 2023. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Dubai recorded its best-ever annual tourism performance in 2023, with international tourist arrivals to the emirate increasing by 19.4 per cent annually to 17.15 million, amid the continued expansion of its economy.

Last year’s figure exceeded the previous record of 16.73 million visitors registered in 2019, according to the latest data published by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism.

“Dubai’s ability to constantly generate diverse and refreshingly novel travel and tourism experiences catering to a wide range of visitors has been a key factor behind this exceptional performance,” Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the emirate's Executive Council, said in a Dubai Media Office statement.

“With several indicators outperforming pre-pandemic levels, this year’s results mark Dubai out as a vibrant focal point of growth in the global tourism landscape.”

Dubai, one of the main commercial, tourism and financial hubs of the Middle East, has maintained a robust growth momentum since bouncing back from the pandemic-driven slowdown.

The emirate's economy expanded by an annual 3.3 per cent in the first nine months of last year, driven by growth in the tourism and transport sectors, the media office said last month.

Dubai continued to attract tourists from across the world with the GCC and the wider Mena region delivering a combined 28 per cent of the total arrivals, followed by western Europe and South Asia, at 19 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively.

Commonwealth of Independent States – Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union – together with eastern Europe accounted for 13 per cent share of total visitors.

The North Asia and South-East Asia regions combined accounted for 9 per cent, while the Americas contributed 7 per cent to the total overnight visitors to the emirate.

Average hotel occupancy rose to 77.4 per cent last year from 72.9 per cent in the previous year and also exceeded the 75.3 per cent average occupancy reported in 2019, the latest data showed.

Supply of hotel rooms in the emirate grew by 19 per cent compared to 2019 level. Occupied room nights also soared to a record high of 41.70 million – marking an11 per cent annual increase and a substantial 30 per cent rise from the pre-pandemic figures.

The average daily rates in 2023 matched the 2022 figure of Dh536 ($146), while RevPar (revenue per available room), a yardstick of hotels' performance, climbed 6 per cent to Dh415.

The length of stay was 3.8 nights in 2023, a 10 per cent increase from 2019 levels, data showed.

“With the Dubai Economic Agenda D33’s strategy serving as our economic compass for the next ten years, we are committed to strengthening the tourism sector, enhancing our assets and infrastructure, and stimulating broader economic growth,” said Helal Al Marri, director general of the Department of Economy and Tourism.

Launched in January last year, D33 aims to double the size of Dubai’s economy, with a target of reaching Dh32 trillion by 2033 and establishing the emirate among the top three global cities.

The plan envisages a programme to support 30 private companies to achieve unicorn status – a company with valuation of more than $1 billion.

Other business incubators will support the growth of private companies, with 400 of the most promising identified.

Dubai’s hotel inventory at the end of December 2023 reached 150,291 rooms with 821 establishments, compared to 146,496 rooms during the previous year across 804 establishments, the data show.

Updated: February 07, 2024, 12:35 PM