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- Dubai 05:30 06:49 12:14 15:11 17:33 18:52
Bookings in Dubai's tourism industry are looking strong for the first quarter of this year, the head of the emirate's tourism department said on Sunday.
"Quarter 1 forward bookings are looking strong and we remain focused on this growth," according to Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of Dubai Tourism.
Tourism is a key pillar of the economy of Dubai, which has established itself as a entertainment and conference hub.
Overnight visitor numbers jumped 7.5 per cent in 2015 to 14.2 million, as the emirate built on its policy of attracting tourists from a wide range of countries, aided by the expanded reach of airlines Emirates and Flydubai, Almarri said.
Asia was the largest source of growth, with a 26 per cent year-on-year jump in Indian visitors to more than 1.6 million people, making India Dubai's number one source of visitors.
South Asia as a whole saw an increase of 21.7 per cent year on year, with the rest of Asia rising 17.9 per cent, led by a continued gain in Chinese tourists.
Turning to 2016, the slackening of economic growth in Asia would be among the main challenges for Dubai's tourism sector, Almarri said, as would currency fluctuations.
Almarri added Dubai was focusing on attracting families as their numbers were on the rise, especially among Gulf nations -- which constituted the largest segment of visitors at 3.3 million in 2015.
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