Dubai among world's most visited cities in 2019

Muzaffar Rizvi/Dubai
Filed on December 4, 2019 | Last updated on December 4, 2019 at 07.12 pm

Bangkok and London will secure second and third position with estimated 25.85 million and 19.56 million visitors this year.

Dubai will retain its seventh position among top 10 most visited destinations in the world and number one ranking in the Middle East and Africa by attracting more than 16.3 million tourists this year, according to a new report. 

Euromonitor International's top 100 City Destinations 2019 report said Dubai builds on its strong performance in the number of international tourist arrivals last year mainly due to the availability of a free transit visa for two days and its various theme park offerings.

The report shows that Dubai racing ahead of New York City, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur and Rome, with Dubai's tourist arrivals for 2019 expected to surpass these cities, among many others.

On the global front, Hong Kong is expected to retain its position as the world's most visited city with 26.72 million visitors despite the ongoing political unrest.

Bangkok and London will secure second and third position with estimated 25.85 million and 19.56 million visitors this year. Macau, Singapore and Paris also stayed ahead of Dubai but the gap is expected to shrink significantly in 2020 when Dubai is expecting a huge influx of visitors for World Expo in October.

"The city will continue to dominate the rankings this year, thanks to greater investment in the tourism sector as well as in infrastructure, and more focus on delivering initiatives that promote tourism, such as a free transit visa for travellers for two days," said Rabia Yasmeen, senior analyst for Project Lead Travel at Euromonitor International.

Dubai welcomed 15.92 million visitors last year and is on track to cross 16 million mark for the first time in 2019. The emirate is targeting 20 million tourists in 2020 ahead of six-month long mega exhibition Exp0 2020 in October. It sets target of 21 million to 23 million tourists by 2022 and 25 million visitors by 2025.

Atik Munshi, senior partner at Crowe, said Dubai has gained a worldwide acceptance as a destination of choice for millions of people, for scores of others, it is a part of their bucket list. He said it is no wonder that Dubai has gained a high spot in the Euromonitor's report on most visited cities.

"The main reasons for Dubai's attractiveness can be described as easy connectivity for both the business and leisure traveller, numerous and cost effective attractions and places to visit for visitors to suit the palates of people whether they are from Asia, Europe or Americas," Munshi told Khaleej Times on Wednesday.

In addition, he said large capacity in hospitality rooms to accommodate visitors of different pocket sizes, abundant business events, expos, facilities and locations which acts as a magnet for the business community from around the globe and highest level of security and political stability coupled with the best infrastructures which imbibes confidence for any kind of visitor or resident also benefited the Dubai's tourism sector.

Laurent A. Voivenel, senior vice-president, Operations and Development for the Middle East, Africa and India for Swiss-Belhotel International, said there are multiple factors that have contributed to Dubai being ranked among the world's leading destinations and a superb choice of hotels is one of them.

He said the solid foundation that has put in place by the tourism authorities through broadening portfolio of attractions and facilities, diversification of source markets, collaboration between various business sectors will all help to accelerate the pace of Dubai's growth into the future.

"The hospitality industry in Dubai is well on track to accommodate the 25 million visitors expected for Expo 2020. We are witnessing 7.6 per cent year-on-year growth in room supply with the city expected to add over 56,000 new hotel rooms by 2020," Voivenel told Khaleej Times on Wednesday.

In the Middle East and Africa region, Makkah (9.83 million), Madinah (8.82 million), Cairo (6.81 million) and Riyadh (5.45 million) followed Dubai to secure positions in top five most visited destinations in the region. Oman and Qatar reported a decline in their number of arrivals.

Rabia Yasmeen of Euromonitor International said there has been increased focus on enhancing tourism offerings from the Middle East and African continent, and countries are working to market natural terrains and open new locations to keep the region competitive. "Leading cities with good infrastructure, such as Dubai and Riyadh, are investing in greater entertainment avenues such as theme parks, concerts, health and wellness and medical tourism," she said.

The top 100 city destinations report shows that Asian destinations took the lion's share of the list, with more than 40-entries. Overall, 2019 saw more travel than ever before as total tourist numbers have grown over 4 per cent this year to more than 1.5-billion trips.

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