x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Arab Spring and bargains galore spur visitor numbers

The Arab Spring and some good old-fashioned bargains at the shops made Dubai immensely popular last year, pushing the number of visitors up 10 per cent to 9.3 million.

Dubai is widely believed to have benefited last year from the Arab Spring, which meant tourists avoided other parts of the region due to civil and political unrest. Stephen Lock / The National
Dubai is widely believed to have benefited last year from the Arab Spring, which meant tourists avoided other parts of the region due to civil and political unrest. Stephen Lock / The National

The Arab Spring and some good old-fashioned bargains at the shops made Dubai immensely popular last year, pushing the number of visitors up 10 per cent to 9.3 million.

That provided a boost to hotel revenues and offered a huge fillip to the emirate's economy.

Hotel revenues hit nearly Dh16 billion (US$4.35bn) across the year, an increase of 20 per cent over 2010, as visitors splashed more cash and stayed longer.

"The substantial gains by hotels and hotel apartments reflect, once again, the vibrancy and dynamism of the tourism industry in the emirate," said Khalid bin Sulayem, the director general for the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTMC).

"We have been successful in boosting the number of tourists to Dubai due to our initiatives to enhance our position in established markets and tap new and emerging tourism source markets."

Dubai is widely believed to have benefited last year from the Arab Spring, which meant tourists avoided other parts of the region due to civil and political unrest.

The emirate also reaped the rewards of a major marketing campaign that included the Dubai Shopping Festival and the Dubai Summer Surprises Festival. Last year's celebration of the UAE's 40th anniversary also swelled Dubai's hotel and retail coffers. Additionally, more flights than ever are available into Dubai, airport authorities said.

The number of tourists last year surpassed the 8.49 million that visited the previous year, while 7.2 million stayed in hotels, up from 6.5 million recorded in 2010.

Retailers throughout the country have also reported huge growth in sales in the past year, which they partly attribute to free-spending visitors.

Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are aiming to increase the number of tourists visiting the country in the next few years, as both emirates embark on major expansions of their respective airports and hold international sporting and entertainment events.

Abu Dhabi reported record figures for tourists last year, with more than 2.1 million guests checking into hotels in the capital, which plans to attract 7.9 million hotels guests annually by 2030.

DTCM is set to continue to promote Dubai as a tourism and aviation hub as it rolls out a marketing drive in Australia and New Zealand this year.

Representatives will also visit 25 major travel and tourism exhibitions across the world and hold Dubai workshops in 10 countries.

Last year, Saudi Arabia was the biggest market for guests for Dubai as it welcomed 873,152 visitors from the kingdom. India was the second-biggest market with 702,142 visitors, followed by the UK, Iran and the US.

The total number of nights stayed by guests in Dubai increased 23 per cent to 32.8 million as the average length of stay increased 12 per cent to 3.6 days.

The average occupancy for hotels during the year was 74 per cent and the number of rooms and apartments increased 5 per cent to 53,828.

rjones@thenational.ae

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