Dubai welcomed 4.1 million overnight visitors in the first quarter, up by more 5 per cent on a year earlier, fuelled by growth in the Arabian Gulf and India.
The GCC countries continued to be the main feeder, delivering one in four overnight visits, according to data released yesterday by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).
Visitors from Saudi Arabia grew 14 per cent to 476,000 from January to March in 2016, making it the No 1 source country, Dubai Tourism said. It was followed by Oman with 322,000 visitors, a jump of 32 per cent.
The subcontinent continued to drive tourism in the emirate as visitor numbers from India grew 17 per cent to 467,000.
“Markets within the four-hour flight path, specifically the GCC and India, remain a critical focus for our ongoing visitation attraction efforts,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, the director general of Dubai Tourism. “With an expanded festivals and events calendar taking off extremely well in the first three months and the opening of a number of new retail destinations and attractions, we are constantly evolving our propositions to ensure that our markets have more reasons to return time and time again.”
Dubai Tourism released the data on the opening day of the Arabian Travel Market, the region’s largest gathering of the travel industry.
This year’s event takes place against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty and terror threats that have hit tourism from Sharm El Sheikh to Brussels. A strong dollar, to which the UAE dirham is pegged, has also reduced the purchasing power of many visitors to the UAE.
Despite such headwinds, developers are pushing ahead with several major retail, hospitality and theme park attractions aimed at attracting more visitors to the country.
New hotel openings including the Palazzo Versace and the St Regis Dubai expanded the city’s luxury offering with 98,949 room across all hotel and hotel apartment categories.