Dubai welcomed 15.92 million overnight tourist visitors in 2018, up 0.8 percent from 2017, according to official statistics released by Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing said on Sunday.
Tourist numbers from China increased by 12 percent, with Saudi Arabia maintaining its place as the second-biggest country of origin for visitors, growing by 3 percent to 1.6 million as compared to 2017.
“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,” said Helal Almarri, Director-General of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.
Dubai and the UAE overall have been implementing measures to boost tourism to the country, including granting the Russians and Chinese visas on arrival, moves that have helped boost visitor numbers from the respective countries.
Dubai has been ramping up its roster of events and developing new attractions to woo visitors. The emirate has marketed itself as a family-friendly destination with theme parks including Marvel-inspired IMG World of Adventures and Dubai Parks and Resorts.
The UK also held on to its third spot as a source market with 1.2 million visitors.
China climbed to fourth spot, with tourist numbers surging 12 per cent to 857,000, while Russia rose two places to sixth position with a 28 percent uptick in the number of travelers to 678,000.
The number of German tourists rose 12 percent to 567,000.
Meanwhile, the number of hotel rooms and apartments rose 8 percent to about 116,000 across 716 establishments, with average occupancy reaching 76 percent.
Luxury hotels accounted for a third of total inventory, followed by four-star hotels with a quarter share and one to three-star with a fifth of all rooms.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.