Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 May 2019

Dubai tourism grows 2.2% in first quarter with Oman fastest growing market

Emirate attracted 4.75 million visitors in the first three months of 2019

Dubai attracts 4.75 million tourists in the first quarter of 2019. Jeff Topping / The National
Dubai attracts 4.75 million tourists in the first quarter of 2019. Jeff Topping / The National

Dubai attracted 4.75 million visitors in the first quarter, up 2.2 per cent from a year ago, with Oman becoming the fastest growing source market as the emirate looks to tourism to stimulate economic growth.

Most of Dubai's visitors came from India, followed by Saudi Arabia, the UK and China, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing said. Visitors from Oman grew 27 per cent, making it Dubai's fifth top source market.

"Our first quarter is an encouraging reflection of the success of our various ongoing initiatives and the efforts of all our industry partners – not just in our attraction of visitation through successful implementation of Dubai Tourism’s planned calendar of regional and global campaigns, but also through customised itinerary programming," Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai Tourism, said.

Dubai is looking into relaxing visa rules for visitors ahead of hosting Expo 2020, a move that could lead to adding more countries whose citizens can get visas on arrival and attract more tourists. Growth in Dubai's gross domestic product is set to accelerate to 2.1 per cent in 2019 and 3.8 per cent in 2020 with improvements expected in its tourism, retail and finance sectors, according to the Department of Economic Development.

India remained the top source market for Dubai in the first quarter, though the number of visitors contracted 8 per cent to 564,836. Saudi Arabia held on to the second spot, but declined 5 per cent to 411,586 tourists. The UK retained its third position, with a one per cent rise to 326,586 travellers.

Chinese travellers continues to flock to Dubai, after the UAE eased rules to grant visas on arrival to Chinese citizens, growing 13 per cent to 291,662 people.

France climbed two ranks to the 10th spot, with visitor numbers growing 17 per cent to 121,000, while Russian tourist figures dropped 10 per cent to 234,142 despite "capacity constraints and competitive pricing", DTCM said.

The number of Iranian tourists declined 36 per cent to 94,000, official data showed.

Dubai's hotel room inventory reached about 118,000 at the end of March 2019, up eight per cent compared to the same period last year, across its 717 establishments, with average occupancy reaching 84 per cent, DTCM said.

Luxury five-star hotels made up 34 per cent of the emirate’s total inventory while four-star hotels comprised a quarter share. Properties in the one- to three-star categories represented a share of 19 per cent and hotel apartments made up 21 per cent of the total inventory.

Dubai International Airport recorded a 2.2 per cent drop in passenger traffic during the first quarter of the year mainly due to fewer flights after the grounding of Boeing 737 Max jets and a shift in the timing of Easter holidays, operator Dubai Airports said Sunday.

Updated: May 6, 2019 03:53 PM

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