Dubai Tourism CEO Issam Kazim expects tourist numbers to be closer to 2019 levels by the end of 2022. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai welcomed 6.17 million international overnight visitors between January and May 2022, a 197 per cent jump compared to the year-ago period, it was announced on Thursday – a seal of approval that the emirate’s tourism industry has continued its successful rebound.

During this period, hotels maintained an average occupancy level of 76 per cent, compared to 62 per cent during the year-ago period.

According to data from hotel management analytics firm STR, Dubai ranked No.1 globally in hotel occupancy, ahead of other international destinations including New York (61 per cent), London (60 per cent) and Paris (57 per cent), for the January-April 2022 period.

The latest tourism data was revealed by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) at its first ‘City Briefing’ for 2022, a bi-annual event that provides an in-depth industry outlook to stakeholders and partners, and discusses future strategies to further reinforce the city’s position as a global hub for business, investment, talent and tourism.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) commented: “We are building on the massive momentum generated by the hugely successful Expo 2020 to drive growth across all our tourism pillars from cultural to culinary experiences, while working towards achieving the ambitious goal of making Dubai the most visited destination and the city of the future that will be the best place in the world to live and work.”

Back to 2019 levels

Dubai Tourism CEO Issam Kazim expects tourist numbers to be closer to 2019 levels by the end of 2022.

“We should start seeing numbers getting a bit more realistic from where we left off (because of the pandemic) by the end of this year or starting next,” Kazim said last month.

The statement came after Dubai welcomed nearly four million international overnight visitors between January and March 2022, up from 1.27 million visitors for the same period last year, representing a massive 214 per cent growth.

“It shows you that the momentum is coming back, but we need to also be aware that the markets globally haven’t really come back to where they were,” said Kazim.

Dubai Tourism is aiming to convert 25 per cent of first-time international visitors into repeat visitors. “We want to continue to be dominant in terms of repeat visitation and get 25 per cent of the visitors that come to Dubai to repeat or come back within 12 months – the quicker we get there, the better,” said Kazim.

More traffic

The Dubai International Airport has raised its full-year 2022 passenger number forecasts to 58.3 million after a sharp increase in traffic in recent weeks. The earlier 2022 estimates were for 55.1 million passengers.

“DXB’s performance over the past successive quarters is nothing short of impressive and is a direct outcome of Dubai’s clear strategy and efforts to restore international air connectivity and mobility and lead the global aviation industry out of an unprecedented crisis,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, in a statement.