Millions flock to Dubai as city leads tourism recovery

Dubai welcomed 7.28 million international overnight visitors last year, representing 32 per cent year-over-year growth on the figure for 2020.

However, the number is still well below the 16.7 million international guests the emirate welcomed in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

Nevertheless, last year was one of recovery for the destination, setting the city firmly on course to achieve sustainable growth.

According to the latest data published from the Dubai Department of Economy & Tourism (DET), international visitation to the city surpassed 3.4 million visitors in the fourth quarter of 2021, achieving 74 per cent of the total pre-pandemic tourist arrivals of quarter four of 2019, and paving the way for hotels in Dubai to deliver a stellar fourth quarter performance that surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

Helal Saeed Al Marri, DET director general, commented: “The outstanding performance also advances our journey towards becoming the most visited destination and the world’s best city to live and work in.

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“In leading the global tourism recovery with the support of our stakeholders and partners, Dubai constantly set precedents, demonstrating how to safely yet effectively open up to international visitors and, critically, stay open.

“Dubai’s well-coordinated, consistent, proactive and creative approach enabled it to lay the groundwork for an accelerated recovery that received a major boost with the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai and the UAE Golden Jubilee celebrations.”

He added: “Dubai’s success in 2021 is testament to the carefully calibrated strategy and decisive measures that were put in place at the outset to counter and manage the pandemic across all sectors including trade and tourism.

“By meticulously following the highest standards of hygiene and safety, supported by diligence and cooperation from all stakeholders, Dubai has been able to reinforce the trust that UAE residents and global travellers place in the city as one of the safest in the world, allowing them to enjoy the diversity of the destination offering within a relaxed environment.

“As we move forward throughout 2022, we are confident that the significant momentum now gathered will accelerate even further to continue to attract not just tourists but also investors, entrepreneurs and innovators to Dubai, enabling them to enjoy and avail themselves of all that our multi-faceted city has to offer.”

Robust international visitation was boosted by strong tourism arrivals from regional markets.

MENA and GCC markets collectively contributed to 26 per cent of the total volumes, reinforcing Dubai’s continued appeal to travellers from proximity markets.

Western Europe accounted for 22 per cent of total visitors in 2021, with visitation led by UK, followed by France, Germany, Italy and Netherlands.

South Asia contributed 18 per cent of the international visitation with Russia, CIS and eastern Europe together making a 15 per cent contribution.

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