Tourism numbers to Dubai grew 5.1 per cent last year to 16.73 million, according to a Dubai Media Office statement.
Tourism now contributes 11.5 per cent of Dubai's GDP, the statement said, adding that Dubai has been named the third-best city for capturing direct international tourism spend in the World Travel & Tourism Council's 2019 Cities Report.
"This past decade, and 2019 in particular, have delivered unmatched acceleration in Dubai’s stature as a destination of choice for global travellers," said Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai Tourism.
"While the global economy remains in a state of flux, we can clearly see an exciting opportunity to further grow Dubai’s dominance in the tourism industry in 2020."
Dubai did not hit its target to attract 20 million visitors by 2020, despite a strong performance in boosting the number of Chinese, Omani and Filipino visitors recently. Full year figures actually show Nigeria was Dubai's fastest-growing source market, with the 246,000 tourists from the country representing a 33 per cent year-on-year spike.
Expo 2020 is also expected to bring a rush of tourists to the emirate when it opens in October.
India remained Dubai's top source market for tourists last year, with just under two million visitors. Saudi Arabia remained the second-biggest market, with 1.6 million visitors, and the UK wsa third, with 1.2 million visitors.
Oman was the fourth-biggest market following a 24.3 per cent increase in visitors, which the statement attributed to a number of seasonal campaigns. Visits during the Eid Al Adha period grew 47 per cent year-on-year and during Oman's National Day period climbed 25 per cent.
The number of visitors from China increased by 15.5 per cent year-on-year to 989,000 and the number of tourists from Russia increased 7.4 per cent to 728,000, placing them in fifth and sixth spot, respectively.
The top ten was made up by visitors from the US, Germany, Pakistan and the Philippines, with the latter posting a 23.2 per cent rise.
Other strong source markets in the top 20 included France, Egypt, Italy and countries from the CIS region. The easing of visa restrictions on visitors from Kazakhstan in 2018 meant visitor numbers from the country grew by 23 per cent to 147,000 overnight visitors.
The UAE has been introducing a series of measures to make visiting the country easier. Earlier this month, at the first cabinet meeting of the year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, announced the introduction of a multi-entry, five-year tourism visa for visitors of all nationalities. The emirate also waived a tourist visa fee waiver for children under the age of 18 accompanied by their parents for a two-month period during the summer season.