Dubai welcomed 4.75 million international overnight visitors in the first quarter of 2019, posting over 2% increase in tourism volumes compared to the same period last year, according to the latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).
Steadily picking up from a stable 2018 performance, Dubai’s tourism sector saw optimistic indicators from its top volume generators and its emerging growth drivers, setting the pace for 2019 both in terms of visitation numbers and GDP contribution.
“Tourism as a sector continues to be one of the most interconnected, and consequently highly diversified pillars of Dubai’s GDP, making our economic contribution imperative for collective growth. Our Vision 2022-25, as set out by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is backed by several targeted strategic programmes for delivery by 2020-22, of which over 70% are well under-way already,” says Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Tourism.
“We recognise the need for accelerated delivery to ensure that Dubai becomes the #1 most visited, preferred and revisited global city for both leisure and business travellers. Equally in this age of disruptive yet progressive technological pervasiveness impacting every sector and most dramatically, the likes of travel and hospitality, we seek to assure even greater relevance and ‘top of mind’ consideration of our modern traveller, through agility, dynamic evolution and multifaceted experience delivery. These fundamentals have in essence guided all of our initiatives, investments and outreach campaigns over the past 12-15 months as we remain focused on innovative, efficient and impactful destination promotion aided by credible global partnerships and deep-rooted stakeholder networks across our markets,” he adds.
In key highlights, India started strong with 564,836 visitors, holding on to its position as Dubai’s largest source market. There were 411,586 tourists from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and 326,586 from the UK, maintaining their second and third positions, respectively.
Growth from China continued at a high 13% year-on-year, aided commendably by Dubai’s ‘China Readiness’ strategy, as 291,662 Chinese chose to visit the city, particularly driving their New Year holiday period in February. Oman followed in fifth place, topping the charts as the fastest growing source country with a stellar 27% increase to deliver 263,182 visitors. Despite capacity constraints and strong competitor pricing, Dubai retained its attractiveness for Russia, welcoming 234,142 visitors, even as Germany was close at its heels with a 5% growth delivering 203,651 visitors.
Rounding off the top ten feeder markets, the US witnessed a 3% surge with 185,864 visitors, while Pakistan, in ninth place, welcomed 137,015 travellers followed by France with 121,189 overnight guests, rising two ranks with 17% year-on-year increase.
From a regional perspective, Western Europe made strong contributions in overnight visitor volumes during Q1 2019, commanding a 23% share compared to 2018 to maintain its leadership position, followed by the GCC and South Asia, contributing 17% and 16% of all international visitation to the city respectively. North Asia and South-East Asia accounted for 11% to reflect sustained interest and rising consideration for Dubai.
Markets across the MENA region, the wider CIS and Eastern Europe also maintained volumes of 10% each, while the Americas contributed 7% of the volume base. Africa delivered 5% of the total visitation volumes, and Australasia rounded off the regional mix with 1% of the market share.
The first quarter of the year saw results with leisure-related experiential offerings expanding to include Bluewaters Island, located off the coast of Jumeirah Beach Residence. The upcoming Ain Dubai – the world’s largest observation wheel – is set to become the centerpiece of the island’s various retail, residential, hospitality and entertainment zones. Add to that, opening of The Pointe, a 1.4 million sqft waterfront dining and entertainment development overlooking Atlantis, The Palm Jumeirah.
Shedding light on some of the city’s lesser known facets and untouched natural habitats, Dubai recently launched the Al Marmoom Bedouin Experience located in the UAE’s first national park and the largest tourism project activated in the region. The experience focuses on the desert environment, in conjunction with Dubai’s recent drive to showcase ecological diversity with the unspoilt mountainous enclaves of Hatta – rapidly gaining popularity with adventure-seekers and nature-lovers.
Addressing the surge in interest for cultural offering, the first quarter of the year also saw the opening of Al Shindagha Museum, representing Phase 1 of the Dubai Historical District that aims to connect visitors with the rich heritage of the UAE. In addition, there has been an enhanced focus on highlighting the emirate’s history and traditions through art, architecture and design, with destinations like Al Seef.
“The continued success of Dubai as a global tourism magnet relies on collaborative delivery between government and private sector, and the enablement of equitable scale-agnostic participation of players across the entire tourism ecosystem,” concludes Almarri.