Dubai saw 4.67 million visitors stay overnight in Q1 2023, on track to becoming a top destination

Dubai saw 4.67 million visitors stay overnight in Q1 2023, on track to becoming a top destination

DUBAI, 1st May, 2023 (WAM) – Dubai has welcomed 4.67 million international overnight visitors in Q1 2023, up 17% YoY from 3.97 million tourists in the same period in 2022, according to Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET). This marks the city's best Q1 performance since the pandemic, and puts it on track to become the world's most visited international destination.

The growth is a key factor in achieving the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, which aims to solidify Dubai's position as one of the top three cities in the world, as announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai earlier this year.

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, 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 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 pillars 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 percent 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 percent of pre-pandemic levels this year, especially in Europe and the Middle East.

The number of visitors in Q1 2023 was just two percentage points short of pre-pandemic volume of 4.75 million tourists that arrived in Dubai in the first three months of 2019, a remarkable achievement since turning the tide in July 2020 by reopening the city to international tourists, and in spite of current global economic headwinds. The industry performance also capped an exceptional first quarter for Dubai, which saw the city being crowned again as the No.1 global destination in Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards 2023, making it only the second time in history a city has won the coveted award for two years in a row.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, commented, “Q1 2023 has set us off on a very strong trajectory for the year and is driving us closer towards realising the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai to make Dubai the most visited and re-visited destination. The positive industry performance is an endorsement of our well-defined strategy, and a testament to the unwavering support of our tourism industry partners and stakeholders. The coming decade will see our industry going through extraordinary phases of transformation, in terms of infrastructure, technology, attractions and experiences, as we focus on achieving the goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda 2033.

“To maintain Dubai’s global appeal as the first-choice destination for travellers, we will continue to follow the multi-pronged blueprint that largely contributed to our success in 2022 - evolving the destination promise, a multi-geographic approach to markets, constant international outreach through global campaigns, hosting international MICE, business and leisure events, and further improving stakeholder relationships. As we look ahead to further accelerating momentum in our tourism sector, the pillars of sustainability, gastronomy, trade, and technology will form the foundation of our future success. Notably, this year is declared as UAE’s 'Year of Sustainability,' marking a major milestone for us, as the city prepares to host COP28, the UN Climate Change Conference. Sustainability will form the core of all that we do, incorporating sustainable practices into every aspect of the visitor experience to advance our journey towards becoming the world's best city to live and work in,” Helal Almarri added.

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 percent of total volumes, reflecting the city’s continued appeal for travellers from neighbouring markets. Western Europe accounted for 22 percent of tourism arrivals, while South Asia, accounted for 16 percent of total international visitation, followed by CIS and Eastern Europe together contributing 15 percent, Americas (7 percent), North Asia and South East Asia (6 percent), Africa (4 percent) and Australasia (1 percent).

The majority of the regions have demonstrated 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 percent vs. Q1 2019), MENA (32 percent vs. Q1-2019), Americas (9 percent vs. Q1-2019 and Australasia 2 percent vs 2019). Both South Asia and Western Europe are close to achieving pre-pandemic levels in terms of tourism volumes.

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 percent, making it one of the highest in the world, and almost on par with the 84 percent occupancy recorded in Q1 2019. This achievement is particularly notable given a 26 percent 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 percent 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 percent and a 27 percent 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 percent growth while RevPAR of AED504 in Q1 2023, surged by 21 percent 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 average length of stay by guests increased to four nights compared to 3.5 nights, a 14 percent increase over the same period in 2019, highlighting the city’s appeal for longer-stay travellers.

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.”

Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism is seeking out new opportunities for growth in both domestic and international markets as it aims to strengthen its existing and emerging markets. With sustainability, gastronomy, trade, and technology forming the pillars of Dubai's tourism strategy, DET is focusing on non-traditional tourism avenues to attract visitors.

The Dubai Sustainable Tourism (DST) initiative, which aims to enhance the sustainability of the tourism sector and contribute to broader clean energy and sustainable development objectives, will be highlighted during the hosting of global events like COP28. DST will also prepare Dubai to cater to global travellers seeking authentic local experiences that promote sustainable practices. The Dubai Can campaign, which encourages the use of reusable bottles, has already reduced the number of single-use plastic water bottles by over 7 million since its launch in February 2022.

DET is also enhancing its Gastronomy Always on Campaign as Dubai drives growth in the hospitality and F&B sector. With infrastructure and support systems for entrepreneurs, Dubai is becoming a much sought-after destination for start-ups, global talent and entrepreneurs.

Dubai's position as an international events destination has been leveraged to draw more visitors to its MICE, business and leisure events. Major events hosted in Q1 2023 include the Dubai Shopping Festival, Art Dubai, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Dubai Duty Free Tennis, Dubai World Cup, Dubai International Boat Show, World Government Summit and Gulfood, the world’s largest annual food & beverage exhibition.

To further facilitate growth, Dubai is providing alternative pathways through visa initiatives like the Golden Visa, 5-year Multi Entry Visa, Virtual Working, and Retire in Dubai programs, easing barriers to entry and promoting long-term affiliation with the city. With top-ranking international universities having established their campuses in the city, Dubai also provides parents a choice of quality education for their children. These initiatives have strengthened Dubai's pro-business environment, making it an attractive destination for multinationals, family offices, global talent, entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors.