Dubai welcomed 15.92 million international overnight visitors in 2018, marking a new high, according to Dubai Tourism.
The emirate's tourism department reported that Dubai’s top source markets provided consistently large numbers of tourists, resulting in double-digit growth to ensure targets are met, based upon Dubai’s Tourism Vision 2022-2025, in addition to driving even greater economic impact on the emirate’s GDP.
Commenting on the announcement, Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of Dubai Tourism, said, "Guided by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the Department remains focused on ensuring that Dubai becomes the number one most-visited city in the world, in line with Dubai’s Tourism Strategy 2022-25.
"As such, throughout 2018, we developed and deployed a custom-market specific approach to our global outreach programmes to provide deeper penetration of our target markets, and widen the sphere of influence and engagement with the Dubai proposition."
"Exposing our industry to new potentials, in order to convert a higher share of the dynamically evolving global outbound travel market, helped steady Dubai’s base tourism volumes throughout last year," Almarri explained.
"Our strategic investments, innovative destination promotion programmes, responsive federal policy reforms, and long-term global partnerships – all backed by the tremendous support of our stakeholders across the government and private sector – continue to yield strong results as we ramp up efforts to increase Dubai’s accessibility, visibility and overall appeal, minimise barriers to travel, deliver new standards in global travel experiences, and ultimately drive both first-time and repeat visitation," he added.
Traditional strongholds have retained their affinity for the emirate's destination proposition, with India once again crossing the two million mark and maintaining its number one position at the end of 2018.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, KSA, came in a strong second, remaining the highest traffic volume generator for the GCC, with 1.6 million visitors, representing a steady three percent year-on-year growth, thanks to customised programmes, including specialised city-wide activities and promotions for KSA National Day celebrations – especially designed to attract visitors from the Kingdom.
The UK, meanwhile, also retained its third place slot with an impressive 1.2 million British travellers visiting the city in 2018 – testament to Dubai’s enduring popularity in the market, despite Brexit conversations impacting overall outbound travel and consumption sentiment from the country.
Dubai’s hospitality sector continued to make further strides in expanding its offering to match the evolving needs of visitors, both in terms of scale and breadth. The hotel sector observed an eight percent growth over a 12-month period versus 2017, with the total number of hotel and hotel apartments units reaching 115,967 across 716 establishments.