Dubai breaks record in welcoming the world; surpasses pre-Covid tourism figures

This exceeds the pre-pandemic figure of 8.36 million tourists in H1 2019


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Sun 6 Aug 2023, 6:53 PM

Last updated: Sun 6 Aug 2023, 9:18 PM

Tourists are flocking to Dubai in record-breaking numbers. In the first six months of 2023, the city welcomed 8.55 million international visitors, exceeding the pre-pandemic figure of 8.36 million tourists in H1 2019. This marks a year-on-year growth of 20 per cent.

Latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism shows that the city is steadily advancing towards the goal of becoming the world’s most visited destination. The first half of 2023 represents the industry’s best ever H1 performance.

The emirate’s hotels outperformed pre-pandemic levels across all hospitality metrics in H1 2023. Average hotel occupancy stood at 78 per cent, which is among highest in the world.

The record H1 performance reaffirms Dubai’s position as the fastest recovering destination globally, and far exceeds the projection made by the United Nations World Trade Organisation that international tourist arrivals could reach between 80-95 per cent of pre-pandemic levels this year.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, said: “The remarkable surge in international visitors witnessed by Dubai in the first half of 2023 further demonstrates its emergence as one of the brightest spots not only in the worldwide tourism sector but also the broader global economic landscape. This accomplishment has been made possible by the foresight of Dubai’s leadership, whose vision and prudent polices fortified its resilience in the wake of global challenges and enabled it to rebound more swiftly than other markets. While the growth of international visitation reinforces Dubai’s rise as a major global tourism destination, it also signifies its status as a pivotal hub for trade, investment and enterprise.

“The Dubai Economic Agenda D33, spearheaded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has outlined an ambitious new trajectory for the city to further consolidate its status as one of the world’s top urban economies and tourism destinations. As a major pillar of Dubai’s economy, the tourism sector will continue to play a key role in realising its future aspirations.”

Key contributors

In the first half of 2023, Western Europe emerged as a significant contributor to tourism arrivals, making up 20 per cent of the total international visitation. The GCC and Mena regions delivered a combined 28 per cent of the regional share.

South Asia held a 17 per cent share of the total visitation, and Russia, CIS, and Eastern Europe combined contributed 14 per cent. North Asia and South East Asia contributed 8 per cent, while the Americas, Africa and Australasia contributed 7 per cent, 4 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively.

Hotels’ stellar performance

Dubai’s hotels outperformed pre-pandemic levels across all metrics, including occupancy, Average Daily Rate (ADR), Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) and length of stay. Dubai hotels’ average occupancy of 78 per cent is 2.2 per cent higher than the occupancy achieved for the same period in H1 2019.

Continued domestic and international investment into the sector further increased the hotel inventory, and by the end of H1 2023, Dubai’s visitors and residents could choose from a total of 810 hotel establishments and 148,689 rooms, compared to 714 hotel establishments that were open with 118,345 rooms at the end of H1 2019.

The average length of stay increased to 3.9 nights (up from 3.5 nights in H1 2019), while the total of 20.73 million Occupied Room Nights in the first half of the year represents a 12 per cent year-on-year growth and a 32 per cent increase compared to the pre-pandemic period of H1 2019.

The ADR of Dh534 surpassed that of Dh444 in the first half of 2019. RevPAR of Dh415 surged by 24 per cent, compared to the first six months of the pre-pandemic period of 2019 (Dh336).

The number 1 destination

Dubai was crowned the top global destination for the second successive year in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2023. This is only the second time in history that a city has won the coveted award for two years in a row.

Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of the Department of Economy and Tourism, said: “These results further add weight to the depth, scale and resilience of Dubai’s tourism ecosystem, both domestically and across the world, all of which have been instrumental to supporting the city’s highly calibrated and agile strategy for advancing growth over the previous decade, mitigating risk and building a comprehensive framework throughout the entire value chain to drive our ambitions for the coming 10 years.”

Staying ahead

Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, explained how the city managed to stay ahead of the curve within a highly competitive global tourism ecosystem.

“Dubai has continued to accelerate momentum … primarily by highlighting the diversity of the city's offerings and the flexibility of our portfolio. Central to our success in showcasing Dubai as a must-visit destination is fostering multi-level partnerships between the public and private sectors.”

“These collaborations with government entities, industry stakeholders and global partners form the backbone of our growth strategy, paving the way for a well-aligned and united cross-sector endeavour to create a unique positioning and drive international visitation, as well as support the wider talent attraction and economic growth agendas.”


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