A growth in the number of visitors during the traditionally quiet summer months boosted Dubai's tourism figures in the first nine months of 2019, new data from the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing shows.
The total number of international overnight visitors grew 4.3 per cent year-on-year to 12.08 million, with visitor numbers increasing from Saudi Arabia, Oman and China even as tourism numbers from the emirate's biggest source market, India, declined.
"Our market-specific diversified strategy aimed at driving consideration from a broad spectrum of countries and visitor segments continues to help us successfully navigate macroeconomic vagaries over a nine-month period, culminating in a record number of visitors between January-September, particularly those choosing Dubai as their summer destination of choice," said Dubai Tourism director-general Helal Almarri.
"The robust increase in travel by families from key markets, and specifically from Saudi Arabia, exemplifies Dubai’s growing appeal as a year-round ‘must-visit’ family destination," he added.
The number of visitors from Saudi Arabia grew 2 per cent year-on-year to 1.25 million, making it the second-biggest source market. Despite a 5 per cent decline on the back of an slowing economy, India remained the biggest source market for visitors during the nine-month period to 1.39 million visitors. The UK is the third-biggest source of overnight tourists, but visitor numbers from there also dropped 2 per cent, to 851,000.
Oman ranked fourth and the number of visitors from the sultanate jumped 28 per cent to 778,000, while the arrivals from China increased 14 per cent to 729,000. Other source markets reporting double-digit growth include the Philippines (29 per cent to 352,000), Nigeria (34 per cent to 168,000) and Kazakhstan (24 per cent to 106,000).
The supply of new hotel rooms continued to rise in the run-up to Expo 2020, the global trade fair that is expected to bring 25 million visitors to the emirate over a six-month period, with the number of rooms increasing by 7 per cent year-on-year.
New openings included the Five Hotel Jumeirah Village, Vida Creek Harbour Hotel and Millennium Al Barsha, which brought the number of hotels to 716 and total rooms to 119,779. Average occupancy levels stood at 73 per cent at the end of the third quarter, Dubai Tourism said.
According to consultancy STR Global, occupancy rates for the year to August — the most recent available data — in Dubai declined slightly to 68.5 per cent, and revenue per available room fell 12.6 per cent to Dh266.57 per night as "hotel rooms are being competitively priced in an effort to stimulate demand and keep up with accelerating room supply".
However, the pipeline of new hotel rooms is now declining as Expo 2020 moves closer, falling 5.7 per cent year-on-year in October, the consultancy said earlier this month.