DestinationsThe Emirati is on the path to becoming the most visited international destination.

Is Dubai the new crown jewel of international tourism?

Dubai's tourism surged in Q1 2023 with 4.67 million international visitors.
Dubai's tourism surged in Q1 2023 with 4.67 million international visitors. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Alexey Stiop

Dubai's tourism industry is rapidly gaining momentum as it aims to become the leading international destination for travellers worldwide. In an impressive first quarter performance of 2023, Dubai welcomed 4.67 million international overnight visitors, reflecting a 17% year-on-year growth. This surge has set Dubai on its course on claiming the title of the most visited international destination.

A remarkable Q1 performance

The recent data released by Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) aligns with the objectives set forth in the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, an ambitious initiative launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai. The agenda aims to position Dubai among the world's top three cities.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the crown prince of Dubai and chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, hailed this extraordinary achievement. He emphasised the city's pivotal role in leading the rebound of the global tourism sector, adding that “ the tourism sector is not only the strongest pillars of our economy but also a key enabler of Dubai’s distinctive role in the world as a bridge between markets, cultures and regions.”

Fastest recovering destination worldwide

The latest industry results, unveiled during Arabian Travel Market 2023, showed that Dubai is the fastest recovering destination worldwide. In Q1 2023, the city achieved 98% of pre-pandemic levels, exceeding the projections made by the United Nations World Trade Organization (UNTO). This recovery has been predominantly witnessed in Europe and the Middle East.

Dubai's hotel sector has also experienced a surge in performance. The average occupancy rate for Dubai's hotels during Q1 2023 reached 83%, standing on par with the pre-pandemic occupancy rate of 84% recorded in Q1 2019. These figures are even more noteworthy considering the significant increase in room capacity since 2019.

Diverse source markets fuelling growth

The diverse source markets have played a pivotal role in driving Dubai's tourism growth. With the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions contributing 29% of total volumes, Dubai continues to attract visitors from neighbouring markets.

Western Europe, South Asia, Eastern Europe, the Americas, North Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Australasia have also significantly contributed to the impressive visitor numbers.

Commitment to sustainability and tourism development

Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) aims to further enhance the city's tourism industry by focusing on exploring non-traditional avenues, promoting sustainability, gastronomy, trade, and technology.

Dubai's Sustainable Tourism initiative has become a crucial aspect of its development strategy, aiming to position the city as a leading sustainable destination.

Leveraging international events and initiatives

Dubai is also leveraging international events to boost its visibility and appeal, having hosted a plethora of world-class events in Q1 2023, including the Dubai Shopping Festival, Art Dubai, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, and the Dubai World Cup.

Moreover, Dubai's commitment to reforms and regulatory enablers has opened up new growth pathways. Initiatives such as the Golden Visa, Multi-Entry Visa, and Virtual Working programmes have enhanced the city's liveability, attracting global talent, entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors. Furthermore, Dubai's investment in infrastructure and support systems has made it an attractive destination for startups and international businesses.

A promising future

Dubai's rapid progress towards becoming a prominent international tourist destination is driven by the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, which aims to expand tourism attractions and investment opportunities, and its focus on ecotourism, food tourism, wellness tourism, and sports tourism.

Dubai is dedicated to providing exceptional experiences to global travellers, collaborating with stakeholders and partners to develop innovative tourism products. By remaining competitive in the global tourism landscape, Dubai aims to maintain its position as a compelling destination.

With a strong performance in the first quarter, Dubai is well-positioned to solidify its status as a desirable location, offering a range of remarkable experiences and establishing itself as a prominent global city.

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