Tourism a key driver of Dubai’s economic diversification

The emirate saw a 3% increase in tourist numbers in H1 compared to the same period last year

Dubai Marina
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Dubai Marina

Dubai welcomed 8.36 million international overnight visitors in the first six months (January-June) of 2019, posting a positive 3% in tourism volume growth compared to the same period last year, according to the latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).

The new figures reinforce the continued strength of Dubai’s tourism sector as a key driver of economic diversification and a reliable catalyst for GDP acceleration through 2020.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai Tourism commented: “Tourism is one of the cornerstones of Dubai’s diversified economic growth, and we measure success based on our ability to aggressively advance towards our goal to be the number one most visited and most preferred city as envisioned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The consequent rise in value creation opportunities, and more inclusive sector participation are core priorities, as we equally strive to sustainably grow GDP contribution. Our first half results are a particularly encouraging reflection of our progress towards this ambition and underline the effectiveness of our diversified market outreach with holistic ‘awareness to booking’ cycle content amplification and audience delivery, through a deeply networked ecosystem of global partners, industry stakeholders and government enablers.”

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India once again led the pack, drawing the highest half year volumes with 997,000 visitors – particularly noteworthy given the severe air traffic and seat capacity challenges due to geopolitical volatilities. At an audience penetration level, travel share of Indian families with children rose by a substantial 10 percentage points from 24 to 34%, directly reflecting higher GDP impact due to party size and spend potential. With more than 30 in-market trade partnerships initiated in the first half of 2019 alone, Dubai Tourism’s confidence in, and commitment to, India is further emphasised by strategic annual collaborations launched with the biggest names in the travel ecosystem – such as Thomas Cook, Cox & Kings and SOTC, as well as OTAs like MakeMyTrip and Goibibo.

Coming in strong as Dubai’s second largest feeder market once again, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) delivered 755,000 visitors at 2% year-on-year growth over six months with a notable 4.9% increase over the Eid break alone – signifying continued stability in Dubai’s attractiveness for Saudi families and millennials.

Staying firmly within Dubai’s top three traffic drivers, the UK delivered 586,000 travellers beating all odds against a significantly devalued British Pound (vs. US Dollar), amidst growing political and economic turbulence surrounding Brexit. Contrary to general dampening in consumer sentiment, Dubai retained high demand from couples – constituting 56% of share – and families accounting for 20%– collectively up three percentage points from H1 2018.

With over 501,000 Chinese visitors to Dubai from January to June 2019, the 11% year-on-year growth from inarguably the world’s most aggressively sought-after consumers is testament to Dubai Tourism’s successful strategies to maintain high conversion appeal for China’s outbound market.

H.E. Almarri added: “Designed to counter unforeseen macro-economic variables faced by the global travel ecosystem and mitigate impediments associated with over-reliance on any one market or region, we have been long-standing proponents of a globally diversified market strategy – which continues to support our resilience as a sector. Our agile and customised strategic programmes also continued to deliver novel and market-centric solutions to strike a fine balance in fuelling more traffic from our traditional strongholds and unlocking the immense potential that exists in the emerging markets.”

Streamlining access to the emirate by establishing hassle-free entry procedures continues to be a top priority for Dubai Tourism. The recent nationwide implementation of a tourist visa fee waiver for children under 18 years of age, who are accompanied by their parents, has augmented Dubai’s position as a leading family-friendly tourism destination.

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