The Burj Khalifa, like the Expo 2020 opening in Dubai in around 900 days, shows how far the UAE has come. Satish Kumar / The National
The Burj Khalifa, like the Expo 2020 opening in Dubai in around 900 days, shows how far the UAE has come. Satish Kumar / The National

Dubai tourist arrivals surge 7.5% in first nine months



Dubai tourist arrivals surged 7.5 per cent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2017 as the emirate, the commercial and business hub of the Middle East, is on track a record year of visitors, according to latest government data.

Tourist arrivals reached 11.58 million in the first nine months of this year, with Dubai's top three source markets – India, Saudi Arabia and UK – maintaining their spots, according to Dubai Tourism.

The emirate, aims to attract 20 million tourists a year by 2020 and had beefed up its marketing efforts to reach the target number. It, last year, started granting visa-on-arrival to Chinese citizens and followed up the move up in February this year with a similar measure for Russian tourists, prompting a surge in arrivals from both countries.

“The sustained growth ahead of the global average that we have witnessed so far this year is indicative of the positive impact yielded by our consolidated strategy across regulatory measures, promotional efforts, trade initiatives and partner programmes,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Tourism. “Even as we continually work to ensure Dubai’s proposition remains stellar and globally competitive, drawing on the concerted cross-industry efforts of all stakeholders, our priority remains the delivery of the highest levels of visitor satisfaction.”

The number of Indian tourists rose 20 per cent to 1.47 million, while those from Saudi Arabia slightly dipped to 1.25 million due to a the economic slowdown in the kingdom. UK tourist arrivals climbed by 2 per cent to 905,000.

The number of Chinese tourists surged 49 per cent to 573,00,  maintaining its fifth spot in terms of source markets rankings. Russia was the fastest growing market, soaring 95 per cent as visitors capitalised on the visa-on-arrival facility.

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Arrivals from Oman and Kuwait, however, declined 23 and 3 per cent, respectively.

The Arabian Gulf as a region was the top source market, accounting for 21 per cent of all visitors, followed by Western Europe with 20 per cent and South Asia with 18 per cent.

Meanwhile, the stock of hotel rooms in Dubai increased 6 per cent to 106,167 at the end of the third quarter, with five-star hotels comprising 33 per cent of the total inventory, four-star hotels accounting for 23 per cent and one to three-star categories representing 21 per cent.

Average hotel occupancy reached 76 per cent at the end of September, unchanged from a year earlier period.

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