The flow of tourists to Dubai does not seem to be slowing down even in the summer as the emirate says it received about 8.1 million international visitors in the first seven months of 2022. This represents nearly a three-fold growth from the same period of 2021 as well as surpassing the total arrivals in the year 2021, when it had received 7.28 million international visitors.
According to the data by the Dubai Economy and Tourism (DET), the arrivals received so far put Dubai firmly within the reach of matching the full year arrivals of 16.73 million visitors that it registered in 2019, the last full year before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. In 2020, Dubai had received barely 5.51 million visitors, but even that number was outstanding compared to many other nations which had remained totally closed for almost two years to foreign tourists.
According to the DET data, India continued to dominate the source markets for Dubai, with 975,000 visitors from India headed to Dubai in July, followed by Oman (880,000), Saudi Arabia (678,000), the UK (568,000) and Russia (348,000). In terms of year-on-year growth, Oman posted the biggest surge, growing more than 12 times.
As a region, the GCC was the top source region for international visitors, accounting for 23 pc, followed by Western Europe at 21 pc, South Asia at 16 pc, the wider MENA 12 pc and Russia, CIS and Eastern Europe at 11 pc.
Tourism is one of the key pillars of Dubai’s economy, and though like the global industry it had slowed down substantially during the pandemic, it has recovered significantly in the past year or so. The recovery has been attributed to government initiatives that included the enactment of safety measures and an aggressive vaccination campaign.
The momentum generated by Expo 2020 Dubai was also key for the sector’s recovery, attracting over 25 million visitors during the six months that it lasted. The UAE also expects to see a “strong tourism recovery” this winter, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, had announced earlier this week.
In preparations, Dubai is also gearing up for an influx of guests for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which will begin in November. The quadriennal event is expected to boost traffic to Al Maktoum International Airport as it handles an additional 30 return flights to Doha during the global sporting event.
In addition, the resurgence of the aviation sector also significantly contributed to tourism growth. The UAE was among the first countries to be successful in reopening their borders, which allowed economic sectors to resume their activities.
Monthly passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest international airport, is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023, and a full recovery is within sight earlier than expected.
The DET data shows that revenue per available room, a key metric for the hospitality industry, was at AED 386 in through July, up 72 pc from last year and about 25 pc more than even the rates in 2019. The average length of stay was 4.1 nights, down 14 pc from last year but up 18 pc from 2019, it added. The overall occupancy rate in the first seven months of 2022 was 72 pc, compared to 61 pc last year and 74 pc in 2019, the data showed.