Dubai sees record international tourism, near pre-pandemic levels
According to the latest data released by the Department of Economy and Tourism in Dubai, the city welcomed 14.36 million international overnight visitors in 2022. This represents a remarkable 97% increase compared to the 7.28 million tourists who visited in 2021.
Furthermore, Dubai came very close to reaching its pre-pandemic tourism numbers, with 16.73 million tourists in 2019. This outstanding achievement solidified Dubai’s position as the top global destination for the second consecutive year in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2023. Only two cities in history have ever accomplished this feat.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council, stated, “Dubai’s ability to rapidly accelerate tourism growth, positioning itself as a clear frontrunner in the global industry, exemplifies the far-reaching vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in transforming the emirate into a significant global player in shaping the future of vital sectors.”
“The impressive surge in international visitation in 2022 aligns with the ambitious objective of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to double the emirate’s economy by 2033. The tourism and travel sector plays a vital role in the leadership’s vision of positioning the emirate as a global economic excellence model.”
According to recent statistics from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), global tourism experienced a decline of 37% between 2019 and 2022. However, the Middle East witnessed the most significant relative growth, with arrivals reaching 83% of pre-pandemic levels. Dubai surpassed regional and global recovery indicators by achieving 86% of its pre-pandemic tourism levels in 2022.
Helal Saeed Almarri, the Director General of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, stated, “Despite the ongoing fluctuations in the global economy, Dubai has emerged as a clear leader in the tourism industry. This robust performance exemplifies Dubai’s prominent role in leading the global tourism recovery. The positive momentum also highlights the significant contribution of tourism to the city’s economic growth and sustainable development, further propelling the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to solidify Dubai’s position as one of the world’s top three cities for tourism and business.”
Dubai’s international markets maintain momentum
In 2022, there was an even split of 21% in arrivals between the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and Western Europe regions. This represents a significant increase from 13% in 2021, particularly for the GCC region. South Asia accounted for 17% of the total arrivals, while the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region contributed 12%. Africa, Australasia, and North and South East Asia each constituted 5% of the arrivals, with the Americas accounting for 7%. Australasia alone represented 2% of the total arrivals.
Strong growth in the hospitality sector
In 2022, the hotel sector in Dubai achieved one of the highest average occupancy rates globally, increasing from 67% in 2021 to 73%. Although slightly below the 75% mark set in the pre-pandemic years, this is still an impressive result. Notably, the high occupancy rate was achieved despite a 16% increase in room supply compared to 2019. By the end of December 2022, Dubai had a total of 146,496 rooms across 804 hotels, compared to 126,120 rooms in 741 establishments at the end of December 2019. The number of hotels also increased by 6% in 2022, with a total of 755 hotels offering 137,950 rooms.
The hotel industry in Dubai has shown significant improvement across various key indicators compared to pre-pandemic levels. Occupied Room Nights reached a record-breaking 37.43 million in 2022, surpassing the 32.11 million recorded in 2019 and the 31.47 million in 2021 by 17% and 19% respectively.
Average Daily Rate (ADR) also experienced substantial growth, reaching Dh536 in 2022, outperforming the ADRs of Dh451 in 2021 and Dh415 in 2019, with increases of 19% and 29% respectively. Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) demonstrated impressive growth as well, with a 25% increase over 2019 and a 30% increase over 2021 (Dh391 vs. Dh301) (RevPAR of Dh312).
Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, expressed his appreciation for the contributions of partners in achieving the top ranking and their active participation in campaigns and marketing activities. He emphasized the importance of the support from public and private sector stakeholders and partners in showcasing Dubai’s unmatched offerings to international travelers. The goal is to continue attracting more visitors to Dubai in 2023 while catering to their diverse preferences and budgets.
New landmarks, initiatives to spur growth
In 2022, Dubai introduced several exciting programs and attractions to enhance its tourism offerings. One notable addition was the Museum of the Future, a captivating landmark that serves as a gateway to an alternate reality. Another highlight was the opening of Atlantis The Royal, a grand-scale resort located on the Palm Jumeirah. Additionally, Expo City showcased the vibrant legacy of Expo 2020, presenting an innovative and human-centered vision of the future.
Dubai is actively working towards its goal of becoming the city of the future through the implementation of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan. This comprehensive plan aims to enhance the tourism offerings by over 100%. Furthermore, Dubai is set to launch new initiatives as part of the UAE 2031 Tourism Strategy. This strategy aims to attract 40 million visitors by 2031 and increase the tourism sector’s contribution to Dubai’s GDP to Dh450 billion. These ambitious plans will further solidify Dubai’s position as a leading destination for futuristic experiences and remarkable attractions.
Multiple visa options
Dubai continues to enhance its legislative initiatives to support the rapid growth of the tourism sector. These initiatives include streamlined entry procedures for both business and leisure travelers, facilitating easy access to the emirate and establishing long-term connections with the city. Some of these initiatives are the introduction of a 60-day tourist visa from September 2022 and the Five-Year Multi-Entry Visa for employees of multinational corporations. Additionally, Dubai offers programs like the Golden Visa, Virtual Working, and Retire in Dubai, which further boost tourism.
In 2022, Dubai was chosen as one of the 20 global destinations under Airbnb’s Live and Work Anywhere project. This initiative aims to identify locations that offer the best conditions for remote workers. In partnership with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, Airbnb established the Dubai Remote Working Hub. This hub serves as a comprehensive resource for aspiring remote workers, providing all the necessary information and support.