2019 saw Dubai reach “unmatched acceleration” to becoming the most popular global city destination

Dubai’s tourism industry closed a successful decade at the end of 2019, welcoming an all-time high 16.73 million international overnight visitors, an impressive 5.1% increase in tourism volumes, definitively surpassing the global tourism growth forecast by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) by over one %. 

With momentum firmly tracking against Dubai’s Tourism Vision 2022-25, latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) reflects the sector’s exponential progress in a compressed time-frame relative to peers, culminating in Dubai being ranked the World’s Fourth Most Visited City for the fifth consecutive year by MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index 2019. 

Rapidly gaining traction on the ‘travel wish list’ for today’s global traveller, 2019 not only delivered record tourist arrivals and indicated strong desirability for future visits, but also reinforced tourism’s role as a key economic growth driver. Contributing an impressive 11.5% in GDP value, Dubai’s tourism sector was ranked one of ‘Top 10’ strongest economic share generators, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Cities Report 2019. The Report also ranked Dubai the third-largest city in capturing direct international tourism spending with a total of USD 27.9 billion.

HE Helal Saeed Almarri, director general forDubai Tourism, said: “The strong performances across our diversified spectrum of traditional strongholds and fast-growing high-value segments have continued to solidify the global competitiveness and sustained resilience of Dubai’s tourism sector. This past decade, and 2019 in particular, have delivered unmatched acceleration in Dubai’s stature as a destination of choice for global travellers assuring advancement towards the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai to make it the #1 most visited, preferred and revisited global city.

Almarri went on to say: ” While the global economy remains in a state of flux, we can clearly see an exciting opportunity to further grow Dubai’s dominance in the tourism industry in 2020, and to pioneer the next decade for global travel, offering unique and transformative tourism experiences created and driven by our strong appetite for radical innovation and stakeholder collaboration.”

Impressive growth is evidenced by Dubai’s top six source markets – India, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), United Kingdom (UK), Oman, China and Russia – delivering over seven million visitors in 2019, with 9 of the top 10 countries crossing half a million visitors each for the first time, highlighting the robust diversity of Dubai’s base for tourist attraction.

Results reveal India once again retains its No.1 market status, drawing the highest visitation with nearly two million visitors, thanks to high-impact delivery of timely, seasonal messaging, and segment-specific campaigns. The Department’s investments yielded strong stabilising returns, strategically tapping into the close association and diaspora affinity, which Dubai shares with this market, countering the relentless spate of outbound tourism challenges including airline industry degradation and geopolitical volatility.

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