Dubai received 14.36 million international overnight visitors in 2022, up 97 per cent year-on-year from the 7.28 million tourist arrivals in 2021, according to the latest data by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).
The emirate also closed in on its pre-pandemic visitor tally of 16.73 million in 2019, further validating its ranking as the No.1 global destination in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2023 for the second successive year, only the second city in history to achieve the feat.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council said: “Dubai’s ability to rapidly accelerate tourism growth, which has marked it out as a clear frontrunner in the international industry, demonstrates the far-reaching vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to transform the emirate into an important global player in shaping the future of vital sectors.
“The remarkable rise in international visitation in 2022 supports the ambitious goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to double the size of the emirate’s economy by 2033. The tourism and travel sector contributes significantly to the leadership’s aim of making the emirate a model for excellence in the global economy.”
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The latest data from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) shows that global tourist travel in 2022 was 37 per cent lower than 2019. The Middle East saw the strongest relative increase, with arrivals climbing to 83 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers. Dubai exceeded both global and regional barometers of recovery with visitors to the city in 2022 reaching 86 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, said: “While the global economy remains in a state of flux, Dubai has emerged as a clear leader in the tourism industry. The robust performance is a testament to Dubai’s growing role at the vanguard of global tourism recovery. The positive momentum also shows that tourism remains a significant contributor to the city’s economic growth and sustainable development, further driving the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to reinforce Dubai’s status as one of world’s top three cities for tourism and business.”
Dubai’s international markets maintain momentum
Western Europe and GCC regions each accounted for a 21 per cent share of arrivals. The GCC region in particular saw a significant increase in its share of arrivals from 13 per cent in 2021 to 21 per cent last year. South Asia contributed 17 per cent of total volumes while the MENA region contributed 12 per cent. The Americas accounted for 7 per cent of arrivals while the North Asia and South East Asia region and Africa each contributed 5 per cent, and Australasia accounted for 2 per cent.
Strong growth for hospitality sector
Average occupancy for the hotel sector in 2022 stood at 73 per cent, one of the highest in the world, rising from 67 per cent in 2021. The figure is just short of the 75 per cent occupancy in the pre-pandemic period of 2019. The high occupancy is particularly noteworthy as it was achieved despite a 16 per cent increase in room supply in 2022 compared to 2019. Dubai’s hotel inventory at the end of December 2022 comprised 146,496 rooms at 804 hotel establishments, compared to 126,120 rooms available at the end of December 2019 across 741 establishments. The total number of hotels in 2022 marked a six per cent growth over 2021, with 755 hotel establishments offering 137,950 rooms.
The hotel sector outperformed pre-pandemic levels across all other key measurements – Occupied Room Nights, Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR). Occupied room nights reached a record high of 37.43 million in 2022, registering a 19 per cent increase vs. 2021 (31.47 million) and a 17 per cent increase over the pre-pandemic period of 2019, which yielded 32.11 million occupied room nights.
The ADR of Dh536 in 2022 surpassed the ADRs for both 2021 (Dh451) and 2019 (Dh415), with 19 per cent and 29 per cent increases, respectively. The hotel sector’s robust performance is also evident in its RevPAR growth – an increase of 30 per cent compared to 2021 (Dh391 vs Dh301) and an increase of 25 per cent over the pre-pandemic period of 2019 (RevPAR of Dh312).
Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “Our partners played a pivotal role in achieving the No.1 ranking with their contributions to both Dubai’s tourism growth and the sector’s global rebound, as well as their active participation in all our global campaigns and marketing activities that have driven consideration for Dubai as the destination of choice for global travellers. The exceptional support of our public and private sector stakeholders and partners will be instrumental in raising our ability to showcase our unmatched offering designed to meet the diverse preferences and budgets of international travellers, as we gear up to welcome more visitors to Dubai in 2023.”
New landmarks, initiatives to spur growth
In 2022, a number of new attractions and initiatives were launched. These include the unveiling of the Museum of the Future, Dubai’s new iconic landmark that offers a gateway to a future world. Dubai also unveiled Expo City, the dynamic legacy of Expo 2020, an innovation-driven, human centric vision of the future, and Atlantis The Royal, a mega resort located on Palm Jumeirah.
With the implementation of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, which aims to expand the emirate’s tourism offering by over 100 per cent, Dubai is on track to achieve its vision of becoming the city of the future. Moreover, Dubai will launch new initiatives aligned with the UAE 2031 Tourism Strategy, which seeks to attract 40 million guests by 2031 and increase the tourism sector's contribution to the emirate’s GDP to Dh450 billion.
Multiple visa options
Dubai also continues to unveil strong regulatory initiatives to promote the accelerated growth of the tourism sector including hassle-free entry procedures for business and leisure travellers that streamline access to the emirate by establishing long-term engagement with the city. These include the 60-day tourist visa available from September 2022, and the Five-Year Multi-Entry Visa for employees of multinational companies, in addition to the Golden Visa, Virtual Working and Retire in Dubai programmes. In 2022, Dubai was selected as one of 20 destinations globally under Airbnb’s Live and Work Anywhere initiative to identify the world’s most remote worker-friendly destinations. Airbnb also launched the Dubai Remote Working Hub, a one-stop-shop for aspiring remote workers in partnership with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism.