Tourists using Big Bus at Dubai Creek. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: A record-breaking number of international travellers flew into Dubai in 2017, further cementing the city’s position as  one of the leading tourist capitals in the world, a new report showed.

According to the latest data published by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), Dubai is nearing its 2020 tourism target as it welcomed a total of 15.79 million visitors last year, up by 6.2 per cent over a year earlier.

South Asia emerged as the number one source of tourists for Dubai, with hordes of Indian visitors, amounting to 2.1 million, arriving in the emirate last year, up by 15 per cent from 12 months earlier. 

This is partly due to Dubai Tourism’s ongoing collaboration with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan in the multi-awarded #BeMyGuest campaign.

DUBAI'S TOP VISITORS (number of tourists, million)

Dubai offers a lot of appeal to discerning travellers from around the world. The emirate is not only home to some of the world's popular landmarks like the Burj Khalifa, it offers a host of activities for families and everyone else to enjoy.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai Tourism, said the 6.2 per cent growth in tourist numbers has allowed Dubai to “ramp up the pace towards meeting” the 2020 tourism targets, which include attracting 20 million visitors per year starting 2020.

“Today, Dubai’s travel and tourism sector is not only well positioned to offer a superlative destination experience across its eight core strategic propositions, but also geared to accelerate its appeal to the diverse and evolving needs of our global travellers,” he said.

Last year alone saw a number of developments that opened their doors to tourists, further “broadening Dubai’s appeal to a wide spectrum of visitors.”

The city’s newest beachfront district, La Mer, opened to provide families with a new hotspot for dining, playing and unwinding, while Etihad Museum was inaugurated. The year also saw the inauguration of La Perle in Habtoor City, which is seen to boost Dubai’s entertainment scene.

Dubai’s major theme parks – IMG Worlds of Adventures and Dubai Parks and Resorts (DPR) had their first full year of operations in 2017. Among the openings towards the end of the year were Dubai Frame and Dubai Safari, both already proving to be popular and the former generating the most impressions ever seen on Dubai Tourism’s Instagram page.

Saudi Arabia was the second-largest contributor of tourists to Dubai at 1.53 million.  The kingdom remained the highest driver of visitor traffic from within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, although the overall number of Saudi tourists posted a 7 per cent decline from a year earlier.

The United Kingdom was the third-largest source of tourists, delivering 1.27 million travellers – up by 2 per cent over 2016.