Dubai is successfully marching towards its goal of achieving 20 million tourists by the year 2020, as latest data showed a 7.5 per cent growth in tourist arrivals in the first nine months of 2017.
The emirate is on track for another record year in terms of foreign tourist arrivals. Strong growth is being witnessed in Indian and Chinese visitors. Dubai Tourism figures released on Tuesday showed that tourist arrivals increased 7.5 per cent to 11.58 million in the first nine months of this year and are set to surpass last year's 14.9 million overnight visitors.
Even if the emirate sustains its average quarterly visitor numbers of 3.86 million, it will surpass last year's figures to reach 15.44 million. However, tourist arrivals generally increase during the last quarter - thanks to good weather and increased activities to attract visitors. According to Dubai Tourism's figures, India retained its top ranking with visitor numbers reaching 1.478 million, an increase of 20 per cent. Retaining its 5th position, visitors from China recorded one of the highest growth of 49 per cent to 573,000 during the first 9 months of this year. The growth in Chinese tourist arrivals was attributed to granting free visa-on-arrival facility.
Saudi Arabia and the UK also retained their positions as Dubai's second and third largest feeder markets, respectively.
A total of 1,250,000 Saudis and 905,000 British travellers arrived in the emirate, the former showing a slight drop. While the UK witnessed a resilient 2 per cent year-on-year increase despite continued Brexit instability.
Almost all the top 10 markets posted increases in tourist traffic except Oman and Kuwait, which saw declines of 23 and 3 per cent, respectively.
Samir Hamadeh, general manager, Alpha Destination Management, said the emirate is increasingly witnessing a shift in key source markets to lower spending regions due to growth in low-cost carriers, expanding middle class, etc. Therefore, this necessitates the development of more value-added offerings.
"The recent addition of 17 new leisure attractions, strong year-round calendar of events, global connectivity, expansion of low-cost carriers and development of mid-market hotels, are right steps in the direction to grow both new and repeat visitors. The more the destination creates attractions and tailors its products to cater to diverse tourists, the better conversion it can expect. There is need to build on experiential travel," he said. "We are focused on continuously innovating, harnessing the power of data, redefining the customer journey and amplifying the voice of the traveller, to ensure that Dubai is a decade ahead of any other global city from a travel and tourism perspective," said Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general, Dubai Tourism.
He pointed out that the aim is not just to achieve higher repeat traffic but also bring in newer audiences as the emirate strives towards 20 million target by 2020.
At the end of September 2017, the number of hotel rooms in Dubai stood at 106,167 spread across 678 establishments, an aggregated 6 per cent increase as compared to September-end 2016. According to Dubai Tourism, luxury five-star hotels made up 33 per cent of the emirate's total inventory, with four-star hotels commanding a 23 per cent share and properties in the one- to three-star categories a share of 21 per cent. Hotel apartment establishments made up 23 per cent of total inventory, split into deluxe/superior and standard categories, with 9 and 14 per cent shares, respectively.
Average occupancy for the hotel sector as whole stood at 76 per cent, remaining unchanged from the end of Q3 2016, underscoring the industry's foundational stability and enduring attractiveness despite rising supply.
Occupied room nights were up year on year, totalling 21.27 million compared to 20.45 million at the end of September 2016, while guests' average length of stay decreased very slightly from 3.6 to 3.5 nights, in part due to an increase in stopover travelers, Dubai Tourism said in a statement.