Photo Credit: Dubai Business Events

Dubai welcomed 4.67 million international overnight visitors in the first quarter of 2023, compared to 3.97 million tourists during the same period in 2022. This marks a 17 % YoY growth and the city’s best Q1 performance since the pandemic, placing it firmly on track to becoming the most visited international destination, according to the latest data published by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).

The growth, which sets the city on course to full tourism recovery, contributes to the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai this January, to consolidate Dubai’s status as one of the world’s top three cities.

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai said: “The remarkable growth in international visitation achieved by Dubai in the first quarter of 2023 demonstrates the city’s emergence as one of the key destinations leading the way in the rebound of the global tourism sector. This achievement has been made possible by the far-reaching vision of the leadership to transform Dubai into one of the world’s fastest-growing metropolises and the globe’s pre-eminent hub for travel, talent, entrepreneurship and investment. The Dubai Economic Agenda recently launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, charts an ambitious new path for Dubai to enhance its contributions to shaping the future of the global economy. The tourism sector is not only the strongest pillar of our economy but also a key enabler of Dubai’s distinctive role in the world as a bridge between markets, cultures and regions. In the years ahead, Dubai will continue to introduce new pathbreaking initiatives to offer a distinctive proposition for travellers and achieve its goal of becoming the world’s best place to live, visit, work and invest in.”

The latest industry results – announced at the ongoing 30th edition of Arabian Travel Market in Dubai World Trade Centre, positions Dubai as the fastest recovering destination globally, achieving 98 % of pre-pandemic levels in Q1 2023, and exceeding the projection made by the United Nations World Trade Organisation that international tourist arrivals could reach between 80-95 % of pre-pandemic levels this year, especially in Europe and the Middle East.

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Strong rebound

Dubai’s traditional source markets delivered solid tourism volumes during the first quarter of the year with key regions continuing to make an impact on international visitation, further underscoring the success of the city’s diversified multi-geographic strategy. GCC and MENA combined was the top region, collectively contributing to 29 % of total volumes, reflecting the city’s continued appeal to travellers from neighbouring markets. Western Europe accounted for 22 % of tourism arrivals, while South Asia, accounted for 16 % of total international visitation, followed by CIS and Eastern Europe together contributing 15 %, Americas (7 %), North Asia and South East Asia (6 %), Africa (4 %) and Australasia (1 %).

The majority of the regions have demonstrated a significant increase in Q1 2023 compared to the same period in 2022 while four regions have fully recovered and surpassed Q1 2019 levels – CIS and Eastern Europe (48 % vs. Q1 2019), MENA (32 % vs. Q1-2019), Americas (9 % vs. Q1-2019 and Australasia 2 % vs 2019). Both South Asia and Western Europe are close to achieving pre-pandemic levels in terms of tourism volumes.

Photo Credit: Dubai Business Events

His Excellency, Issam Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “Inspired by our visionary leadership, we have made tremendous strides in our efforts to position the city as a must-visit destination through celebrity-led and digital-first global campaigns in parallel with initiatives that increase accessibility, minimise barriers to travel, and make it as seamless as possible for travellers to visit Dubai. We express our sincere appreciation for the steadfast support from all our stakeholders and partners who relentlessly strive to uphold our city’s position as a top-tier travel destination globally. Their commitment to our shared vision is instrumental in maintaining our city’s global reputation and for the steady inflow of international visitors. We will continue to work with them to develop innovative and unique tourism products and experiences that will further amplify the appeal of our city as the top consideration for both first-time and repeat business and leisure travellers. With global travel undergoing a paradigm shift in terms of visitor expectations and experiences, we are making every effort to ensure Dubai performs even better in 2023 and beyond to remain ahead of the curve in a highly competitive global tourism landscape.”

Photo Credit: Dubai Business Events

Dubai’s hotel sector spearheads growth

Dubai hotels saw a surge in performance during the first quarter of 2023. Average occupancy for the sector during the January-March period stood at an impressive 83 %, making it one of the highest in the world, and almost on par with the 84 % occupancy recorded in Q1 2019. This achievement is particularly notable given a 26 % increase in room capacity since then. By the end of March 2023, the city’s hotel sector had a total of 148,877 rooms in 814 hotel establishments compared to 118,039 rooms in 717 hotel establishments in 2019. Continued domestic and international investment into the sector helped further boost hotel inventory, with the first quarter of 2023 seeing a 6 % increase in the total number of hotels and rooms compared to the same period in 2022.

The hotel sector outperformed pre-pandemic levels across all other hospitality metrics. During the first three months of the year, Dubai hotels collectively provided 10.98 million Occupied Room Nights, a YoY growth of 7 % and a 27 % increase compared to the pre-pandemic period of Q1 2019, which registered 8.63 million Occupied Room Nights. The ADR of AED607 during the first three months of the year surpassed the ADR of 2019 (AED498), a 22 % growth while RevPAR of AED504 in Q1 2023, surged by 21 % compared to the first three months of the pre-pandemic period of 2019 (AED 417). The robust performance of the hotel sector is also evident by the fact that the average length of stay by guests increased to four nights compared to 3.5 nights, a 14 % increase over the same period in 2019, highlighting the city’s appeal for longer-stay travellers.

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