Tourists and residents at Dubai mall during Eid Al Adha holidays. Dubai has continued to grow its share of the outbound travel market despite disruption in three of its largest markets. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Dubai saw 14.9 million overnight visitors in 2016, recording a 5 per cent increase on 2015, according to a statement released on Tuesday by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

In an announcement of its annual visitor figures, the tourism department noted a four-year CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 8 per cent between 2012 and 2016.

These results follow the announcement from His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, of the 2020 tourism strategy.

The statement notes that Dubai is on track to achieve the goal of 20 million visitors by 2020, and increase its sector-driven economic contribution to the emirate’s GDP.

The growth rate of 8 per cent is double the global travel industry growth of approximately 4 per cent over the same period, as forecasted by the United Nations World Travel Organisation (UNWTO).

Dubai has continued to grow its share of the outbound travel market despite disruption in three of its largest markets.

Helal Saeed Al Merri, Director General, Dubai Tourism, said in a statement: “2016 was another milestone marker for Dubai’s travel sector, as we rallied strong, and ramped up the momentum to significantly outpace the four-year global industry average by double. With our international overnight traffic reaching 14.9 million, Dubai has cemented its ranking as the fourth most visited city in the world, critically delivering the highest value to the domestic economy with our number one ranking in terms of spend per tourist compared to any other competitor destination.”

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) remained the number one volume generator for tourism to Dubai, delivering the highest share of visitor volumes for 2016, with a total of 3.4 million, up 5 per cent compared to 2015.

Saudi Arabia led this contribution with over 1.6 million visitors, a 6 per cent increase, with Oman next in line accounting for over 1 million travellers.

Western Europe was the second strongest region for visitors to Dubai, accounting for 21 per cent of the total 2016 tourism volumes with more than 3.1 million tourists, representing a 4 per cent annual growth. The UK retained its position as Dubai’s number three market bringing in nearly 1.25 million visitors, while Germany remained stable with 460,000 visitors.