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Dubai records 4.75m visitors in Q1 2019

By Chuks Nwanne
18 May 2019   |   3:00 am
Dubai welcomed 4.75 million international overnight visitors in the first quarter of 2019, posting over two per cent increase in tourism volumes compared to the same period last year according to the latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism). Steadily picking up from a stable 2018 performance, Dubai’s tourism…

Aerial view of Mountain Enclave of Hatta in Dubai

Dubai welcomed 4.75 million international overnight visitors in the first quarter of 2019, posting over two per cent increase in tourism volumes compared to the same period last year according to the latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).

Steadily picking up from a stable 2018 performance, Dubai’s tourism sector saw optimistic indicators from its top volume generators and its emerging growth drivers, setting the pace for 2019 both in terms of visitation numbers and GDP contribution.

In key highlights, India started strong, holding on to its position as Dubai’s largest source market, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the UK maintained their second and third positions respectively, as the city continued to refresh its proposition and sustain its dynamic appeal to these traditional bases.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai Tourism commented: “Tourism as a sector continues to be one of the most interconnected, and consequently highly diversified pillars of Dubai’s GDP, making our economic contribution imperative for collective growth.

Our Vision 2022-25, as set out by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is backed by several targeted strategic programmes for delivery by 2020-22, of which over 70% are well under-way already. We recognise the need for accelerated delivery to ensure that Dubai becomes the #1 most visited, preferred and revisited global city for both leisure and business travellers.”

The success of the emirate’s in-city delivery alignment efforts among all involved stakeholders is reflected in the Dubai International Visitor Survey that monitors audience sentiment and traveller engagement at relevant touch points across various destination pillars.

The results of the latest survey revealed that 99.8 per cent of visitors were ‘happy’ or ‘extremely happy, while 99.7 per cent of visitors are likely to recommend Dubai to friends or family, reflecting a strong advocacy base.

On the destination marketing side, awareness, consideration and conversion effectiveness of the strategies and targeted campaign delivery yielded tangible results in Q1 2019.

India drew the highest visitation with 564,836 visitors, followed by a strong 411,586 tourists from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), remaining the highest traffic volume generator for the GCC.

The UK, meanwhile, retained its third position with an impressive 326,586 British travellers in just the first three months this year.

Growth from China continued at a high 13 per cent year-on-year, aided commendably by Dubai’s ‘China Readiness’ strategy, as 291,662 Chinese chose to visit the city, particularly driving their New Year holiday period in February.

Oman followed in fifth place, topping the charts as the fastest growing source country with a stellar 27 per cent increase to deliver 263,182 visitors.

Despite capacity constraints and strong competitor pricing, Dubai retained its attractiveness for Russia, welcoming 234,142 visitors, even as Germany was close at its heels with a 5% growth delivering 203,651 visitors.

Rounding off the top ten feeder markets, the USA witnessed a three per cent surge with 185,864 visitors, while Pakistan, in ninth place, welcomed 137,015 travellers followed by France with 121,189 overnight guests, rising two ranks with an impressive 17 per cent year-on-year increase.

From a regional perspective, Western Europe made strong contributions in overnight visitor volumes during Q1 2019, commanding a 23 per cent share compared to 2018 to maintain its leadership position, followed by the GCC and South Asia, contributing 17 and 16 per cent of all international visitation to the city respectively. North Asia and South-East Asia accounted for 11 per cent to reflect sustained interest and rising consideration for Dubai.

Markets across the MENA region, the wider CIS and Eastern Europe also maintained volumes of ten per cent each, while the Americas contributed seven per cent of the volume base.

Africa delivered five per cent of the total visitation volumes, and Australasia rounded off the regional mix with one per cent of the market share. The diversified regional performance is a testament to the success of the Emirate’s continued globalization approach.

With a conversion-driven orientation, Dubai’s spring campaign targeted a broad base of European travellers seeking respite from winter, showcasing the city’s best seasonal proposition and fully linked to the trade networks for itineraries and packages to drive bookings.

Built on core travel passion points such as leisure activities, adventure escapes and rich gastronomy, the campaign employed nine immersive microfilms across social channels to yield over 300 million views.

The first quarter of the year also saw results with leisure-related experiential offerings expanding to include Bluewaters Island, located off the coast of Jumeirah Beach Residence, with the upcoming Ain Dubai – the world’s largest observation wheel – set to become the centerpiece of the island’s various retail, residential, hospitality and entertainment zones.

2019 also saw the opening of The Pointe – a 1.4 million square foot waterfront dining and entertainment development overlooking Atlantis The Palm Jumeirah.

Between January to March 2019, further strides were made to expand Dubai’s hospitality offering to match the evolving needs of visitors, with the openings of new hotels including the W Dubai – The Palm and Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah.

Average occupancy for the hotel sector stood at 84%, underscoring the industry’s stability despite the rising inventory supply, with establishments delivering a combined 8.63 million occupied room nights during the first three months of the year.

Spread across a total of 717 establishments, Dubai’s hotel room inventory stood at 118,039 at the end of March 2019, up eight per cent compared to the same period last year.

Luxury five-star hotels constituted 34 per cent of the emirate’s total inventory, with four-star hotels commanding a 26 per cent share. Properties in the one- to three-star categories represented a share of 19 per cent.

With increasing demand for diversified accommodation options, hotel apartment establishments made up a combined 21 per cent of the total inventory, split into deluxe/superior and standard categories.