OPN_181220 Zayed Mosque_P2
Tourists visit the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. The UAE tourism sector performed outstandingly in 2020 despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Ministry of Economy, Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: The UAE tourism sector performed outstandingly in 2020 despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed by the Ministry of Economy, noting that the sector was among the least affected and fastest to recover around the world.

The UAE recorded a 54.7 per cent hotel occupancy rate in 2020 – the second highest in the world behind only China – while the global rate dropped to 37 per cent under the weight of the pandemic, and hotels in the Middle East region recorded just 43 per cent occupancy. This is in parallel to the significant decline in tourist activity, which fell by 74 per cent around the world and 76 per cent in the region.

Hospitality establishments welcomed 14.8 million guests in 2020, who spent 54.2 million nights in 1,089 different establishments that provided approximately 180,000 rooms, according to official statistics issued by the World Tourism Organisation and the Emirates Tourism Council – established by the Council of Ministers in January 2021 and chaired by Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises.

The average stay was 3.7 nights per guest, with returns of Dh318.5 per room. Meanwhile, domestic tourism contributed Dh41 billion to the national economy last year – a figure that is expected to double in the upcoming few years.

“The global tourism industry bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Al Falasi.

“Guided by the directives of its wise leadership, the UAE was able to quickly contain the outbreak’s impact on the local tourism sector, relying on innovation and agility in its efforts to provide incentives, launch initiatives, and create opportunities to accelerate the recovery of the tourism sector and boost its contribution to GDP.”

More initiatives 

Al Falasi asserted that the next stage will include further initiatives aiming to maintain the sector’s outstanding performance and boost chances for recovery:

“The tourism sector’s accomplishments over the past year are a result of the notable efforts made by all relevant parties to promote the sector at the federal and local levels. This is in addition to the proactive measures the UAE implemented to deal with the outbreak and minimise its impact on public health,” he said.

According to global statistics on tourism, China ranked first in the world in occupancy rates at hotel establishments with a rate of 58 per cent, followed by the UAE in second place with 54.7 per cent, and the United States in third with 37 per cent. The top three were followed by Mexico (32 per cent), Turkey (30 per cent), Thailand (27 per cent), the United Kingdom (26 per cent), Spain (23 per cent), Italy (16 per cent), and Germany (12 per cent).

Statistics also revealed that the UAE suffered the least in terms of tourist traffic in 2020, where activity fell by just 45.2 per cent – the lowest drop in the world.