Dubai: On track for record year

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Dubai has maintained its strong performance through 2017 and is on track for another record year in terms of tourist volumes, according to the latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism). 

A total of 11.58 million international overnight visitors arrived at the destination during the first nine months of 2017, reflecting a 7.5% increase over the same period last year.

India retained top spot on Dubai’s list of source markets for inbound tourism, with 1,478,000 Indian tourists arriving in the city between January and September, registering a significant 20 per cent rise over the same period in 2016.

Meanwhile, China stayed in fifth place with impressively large 49% year-on-year growth, delivering 573,000 visitors in the first nine months of the year and continuing to benefit from regulatory changes introduced in late 2016 granting Chinese citizens free visa-on-arrival access to the UAE.

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 between January and September 2017, the former showing a slight drop compared to the first nine months of 2016, reflecting the ongoing economic challenges facing Saudi Arabia, while the UK witnessed a ‘resilient’ 2% year-on-year increase despite continued Brexit instability.

Almost all the top 10 markets – with the exception of Oman and Kuwait, which saw declines of 23 and 3% respectively – posted healthy increases in tourist traffic, including sixth-placed USA up 6%, seventh-placed Pakistan up 4%, eighth-placed Iran up 16% and ninth-placed Germany up 6%.

Among the top 20 feeders of traffic, Russia topped the growth charts, posting an increase of 95% and continuing the pronounced resurgence seen earlier in the year following the February introduction of UAE visa-on-arrival access for Russian citizens.

Philippines in 11th position, France in 15th, Jordan in 17th and Lebanon in 19th also saw double-digit year-on-year increases of 10, 12, 18 and 15% respectively, with 13th-placed Egypt, 16th-placed Italy and 18th-placed Canada showing lower, yet stable increases at 2, 4 and 1% respectively. Only two markets – Australia and Bahrain – witnessed nominal declines of 2% each.

The performance in the first three quarters of 2017 indicates that the emirate is making sustained progress towards its Tourism Vision 2020 goals of welcoming 20 million visitors per year by 2020 and increasing the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP.

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