Dubai welcomed a record 15.8 million visitors last year

Emirate is on track to reach 20 million visitors by 2020

People use a boat as they tour the Global village in Dubai, United Arab Emirates December 24, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
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Dubai’s international visitor numbers grew 6.2 per cent to a new record last year as the emirate inches closer to achieving its target of welcoming 20 million travellers annually by 2020, a government body said on Wednesday.

“Our strong 6.2 per cent growth in 2017 has allowed us to ramp up the pace towards meeting our 2020 targets, and today Dubai’s travel and tourism sector is not only well positioned to offer a superlative destination experience across its eight core strategic propositions, but also geared to accelerate its appeal to the diverse and evolving needs of our global travellers,” said Helal Almarri, director general of Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).

Dubai received 15.8 tourists in 2017, up from 14.9 million in 2016 as last year’s growth rate exceeded the 5 per cent achieved in 2016, Dubai Tourism said.

The three top source markets – India, Saudi Arabia and the UK – retained their spots. Indian visitor numbers to Dubai grew 15 per cent and crossed the 2 million market, the first for any country in a single year. The number of Saudi visitors dropped 7 per cent to 1.53 million but remained the biggest Arabian Gulf market. The number of UK visitors inched up 2 per cent to 1.27 million despite the impact of Brexit on outbound travel.


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Dubai has been beefing up its roster of events and developing new attractions to woo more visitors to the emirate. The emirate is also marketing itself as a family destination with the opening of a number of theme parks, including Marvel-inspired IMG World of Adventures and Dubai Parks and Resorts.

The UAE has eased visa restrictions for Indian, Chinese and Russian visitors to attract more tourists from these regions.

Visitors from China surged 41 per cent to 764,000, while Russia tourists soared 121 per cent to 530,000. Gains in markets such as US, Germany and Iran offset declines in countries including Oman and Pakistan.

Western Europe displaced the GCC as the main source market region, with a 21 per cent market share and 3.2 million visitors, up by 5.5 per cent from 2016. The GCC contributed 19 per cent of all visitors, with some 3.02 million tourists, a 4 per cent drop from 2016 that was mitigated by year-on-year increases in other regions.