Dubai edged towards its target of becoming the most visited city in the world with 15.92 million international overnight visitors in 2018.
The record number of visitors followed a series of customised global outreach programmes carried out by Dubai Tourism, according to Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Tourism.
“Exposing our industry to new potential in order to convert a higher share of the dynamically evolving global outbound travel market has helped steady Dubai’s base tourism volumes throughout last year,” Almarri said.
“Our strategic investments, innovative destination promotion programmes, responsive federal policy reforms, and long-term global partnerships – all backed by the tremendous support of our stakeholders across the government and private sector – continue to yield strong results as we ramp up efforts to increase Dubai’s accessibility, visibility and overall appeal, minimise barriers to travel, deliver new standards in global travel experiences, and ultimately drive both first-time and repeat visitation,” he added.
India was the number one source market, with over 2 million visitors, fuelled by business partnerships with key industry leaders and national publications like TOI across India, and tailored destination-focused campaigns, such as multi-award-winning #BeMyGuest, a collaboration with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, as well as highly targeted seasonal activations to resonate with a diverse range of Indian audiences.
Saudi Arabia was the second highest with 1.6m visitors, helped by customised activations including specialised city-wide activities and promotions for KSA National Day celebrations.
The UK was again the top European market, with 1.2m visitors despite Brexit conversations impacting overall outbound travel and consumption sentiment from the country.
China, Russia and Germany all saw double-digit increases, with China rising 12 per cent in year-on-year growth to bring in 857,000, Russia increasing 28% (678,000) and Germany up 12% (506,000)
Dubai’s hotel sector observed an 8% growth over a 12-month period versus 2017, with the total number of hotel and hotel apartments keys reaching 115,967 across 716 establishments.
Luxury five-star hotels made up 33% of the emirate’s total inventory, with four-star hotels commanding a 26% share.
Hotel apartment establishments constituted a combined 21% of the total inventory, split into deluxe/superior and standard categories.
With average occupancy reaching 76%, occupied room nights were up to 30.13 million, while guests’ average length of stay remained unchanged at 3.5 nights.