Average hotel occupancy rates were 72.6 per cent during this time, up 6.8 percentage points compared to the same period in 2021. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: The emirate of Dubai hosted 12.82 million overnight visitors in the first 11 months of 2022, up 112.96 per cent compared to the year-ago period, official government statistics revealed.

Dubai’s January to November performance indicates a robust post-pandemic recovery, as its 11-month performance is just 3.9 million visitors short of its 2019 performance of 16.73 million.

The emirate’s tourism sector has maintained strong performance in 2022 and picked pace in the final quarter after easing COVID-19 restrictions, with mega events such as the Fifa World Cup in Qatar adding to a surge in tourist numbers.

At least 20 per cent of the visitors who arrived in Dubai from January to November this year were from Western European countries, and 17 per cent were from South Asian nations, Department of Economy and Tourism data showed.

India, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Russia, and the US were some of the top-performing source markets.

India was Dubai’s top source market in the first 11 months with 1.64 million visitors, up 106 per cent from last year.

Average hotel occupancy rates were 72.6 per cent during this time, up 6.8 percentage points compared to the same period in 2021. Average daily room rates, a hospitality industry performance metric, reached Dh521 in the first 11 months of 2022, above Dh418 in the same period last year and Dh405 in January-November of 2019.

In a statement issued earlier this month, Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General of DET, said: “Our performance in 2022 indicates that we are on target to achieving our tourism goals. It dovetails with the UAE Tourism Strategy 2031 announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to attract Dh100 billion as additional tourism investments and 40 million hotel guests by 2031.”

“We are well-placed to end this year on a resounding note and perform even better in 2023 and beyond, steadfastly supported by our aviation, travel and hospitality partners, who continue to champion Dubai’s position as the first-choice destination for global travellers,” said Al Marri. The Director-General issued this statement while launching the Dubai Tourism Summit, set to take place next year.

Dr Ross Curran, Assistant Professor at Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, said: “Several factors have led to a spike in visitor numbers to Dubai. Some of these are the easing of travel restrictions, quick and efficient visa processes, an abundance of tourist attractions for all age groups, the onset of the cruise season, and the UAE’s global reputation as one of the safest countries in the world.”

Moreover, the emirate is also witnessing some positive FIFA World Cup after-effects. Also, the recent news regarding the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions in China will contribute to growing numbers in Dubai, explained Dr Curran.

“Additionally, events and experiences like the Dubai Shopping Festival, Global Village, and newly unveiled attractions such as the underwater zoo and The Museum of Future will keep travellers interested,” he stated.

“I expect the numbers will continue to go up through early 2023 with more international travellers enjoying the best climate of the year that the UAE can offer,” said the professor.

Also, this is a hectic time for Dubai International Airport (DXB), and hotels in the country as the hub expects to handle about two million passengers over the busy holiday season. At least 245,000 passengers are expected to pass through the hub between December 27 to January 3, DXB said yesterday. January 2 is expected to be the busiest day, with traffic exceeding 257,000 passengers.