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Dubai records 214% growth in overnight visitation during Jan-March 2022

The city of Dubai welcomed 3.97 million international overnight visitors between January and March 2022, up from 1.27 million visitors for the corresponding period last year, representing a massive 214 per cent YoY visitation growth that places the city firmly on track for a momentous year while reaffirming Dubai’s position as the first choice destination for global travellers. Dubai also ranked No.1 globally in hotel occupancy in the first quarter of 2022, with 82%.

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, said, “Dubai’s ability to surpass other major global cities in key tourism indicators demonstrates the success of the far-reaching vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to create a hub for business, investment, entrepreneurship and tourism that rivals the world’s best. The strength of His Highness’s vision and his steadfast determination to make it a reality have enabled Dubai to overcome the most complex global challenges, including the repercussions of the recent worldwide health crisis, to create a destination that offers rich value for travellers whether they are visiting for leisure or business.”

“The exceptional number of visitors in the first three months of the year is testament to the fact that Dubai is at the forefront of global tourism recovery. These results attest to the emirate’s ability to develop a compelling new value proposition in a changed global environment and create innovative new offerings that meet the needs and preferences of the most discerning global travellers. In addition, the vast global diversity of its visitors reflects Dubai’s appeal as a destination that cuts across nationalities, regions and continents, and its growing status as a city that bridges global markets and cultures,” His Highness added.

According to the latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) at the ongoing Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, the first quarter international visitation reflected the best Q1 performance since the global pandemic, creating a clear pathway for the city to progress towards its coveted goal of becoming the world’s most visited destination.

March 2022 was a particularly exceptional month for post-pandemic tourism arrivals, as the city welcomed 1.78 million international visitors, a 11 per cent increase over pre-pandemic visitation. The city welcomed 1.61 million overnight visitors in March 2019. Dubai’s impressive Q1 2022 results also include a stellar performance by hotels that saw significant growth across key hospitality metrics.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), commented, “Spearheaded by the visionary leadership and guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the exceptional performance in Q1 2022 cements Dubai’s position as the destination of choice for international travellers and lays a solid groundwork for the city to deliver sustainable growth. The hugely successful Expo 2020 Dubai, alongside a compelling portfolio of leisure and business events in the first three months of this year, has firmly placed the city on the world stage, while reinforcing Dubai’s position as a global economy and tourism hub.

“Since leading global tourism recovery with the reopening of the city to international travellers in July 2020, Dubai has only gone from strength to strength, building on the momentum year on year by carefully calibrating a multi-pronged approach with the support of our valued ecosystem of stakeholders and partners to ensure the city remains open, safe and accessible. With our result-oriented strategy becoming a role model for recovery, we are delighted to welcome the world as it yearns to be a part of Dubai’s successful tourism journey.

“While these critical metrics of Q1 2022 allow us to benchmark our progress, we will seek to broaden Dubai’s global appeal to new and diversified market segments, and focus on encouraging greater length of stay and repeat visitation. And as we move forward through 2022, we will also continually strive to achieve Dubai’s vision to become the most sought-after travel destination and the best city in the world to live in and work,” HE Helal Almarri added.

Strongholds stage remarkable comeback
With the easing of travel restrictions around the world, Dubai’s traditional source markets delivered impressive tourism volumes in the first quarter. Regional markets continued to make an impact on international visitation, further underscoring the success of Dubai’s diversified multi-geographic strategy. MENA and GCC collectively contributed to 35 per cent of the total volumes, reflecting Dubai’s continued appeal to travellers from proximity markets. Catering to the family-dominated GCC tourists were a host of attractions, retail, sporting and entertainment events. Western Europe accounted for 24 per cent of Dubai’s tourism arrivals, while South Asia accounted for 14 per cent of total international visitation.

Hotels lead robust rebound
Dubai hotels achieved significant growth across key hospitality metrics in Q1 2022 with Average Daily Rate (AED649), Guests’ Length of Stay (4.3 nights) and Occupied Room Nights (10.22 million) exceeding pre-pandemic levels. In Q1 2019, ADR was AED498 while Guests’ Length of Stay was 3.5 nights and Occupied Room Nights was registered at 8.63 million. Continued domestic and international investment into the sector helped further boost hotel inventory, with an eight per cent increase in the number of hotel establishments and 10 per cent growth in the number of rooms compared to the corresponding period in 2021. Dubai’s visitors and residents are now able to choose from a total of 769 hotel establishments and 140,192 rooms, compared to 716 hotels establishments that were open with 117,434 rooms in Q1 2019.

In the first three months of 2022, hotels achieved average occupancy levels of 82 per cent, which is almost on par with the occupancy levels of 84 per cent for the same period in 2019. In terms of hotel occupancy, Dubai ranked No.1 globally in Q1 2022, ahead of other international destinations including London (56.0 per cent), New York (55.3 per cent) and Paris (51.2 per cent), according to data from hotel management analytics firm STR.

Achievements and accolades
Building upon the city’s drive to further diversify its offerings to ensure a broad choice to travellers of all ages and interests, Q1 2022 saw the opening of new attractions and leisure landmarks including the Museum of the Future. Dubai also continued to capture a raft of awards and recognition from across the industry, elevating the destination’s global reputation. Dubai’s recent selection as the world’s most popular destination, the No.1 destination for ‘City Lovers’ and No. 4 destination for ‘Food Lovers’ in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2022 speaks volumes to the city’s endless appeal to diverse audiences from around the world.

Dubai’s reputation as a global gastronomy hub was further bolstered by the announcement of the launch of Michelin Guide Dubai in June and the arrival of the renowned fine dining food critique brand Gault&Millau. Furthermore, 16 of Dubai’s restaurants were recognised in the inaugural edition of Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants in February 2022. Dubai is home to more than 12,000 restaurants and cafes that serve food and beverage drawn from the cultures of over 200 nationalities residing in the city.

Dubai remains committed to maintaining its position as one of the safest destinations in the world, with the UAE being one of the most vaccinated nations with more than 97 per cent of the population vaccinated and achieving No.3 position globally in Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking.

Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, added, “Dubai’s continued success as demonstrated by the Q1 2022 results validates the strategic framework that was put in place at the outset of the pandemic to implement the highest levels of health and safety, further reinforcing the trust that UAE residents and global travellers place in the city as one of the safest destinations in the world. Our commitment to safety and the strength of our government, public and private sector partnerships, as well as our effective promotional and marketing outreach, have been fundamental in fuelling growth during this period. As we are in the early stages of what promises to be an outstanding year for our tourism industry, we will continue to maintain constant dialogue with both our domestic and international partners to sustain Dubai’s multifaceted global appeal throughout 2022 and beyond.”

Global events and campaigns helped drive Q1 growth
As ample testament to Dubai’s position as an international events destination, the roster of global events led by Expo 2020 formed the cornerstone of Q1 success. Exceeding all expectations, Expo 2020 Dubai saw 192 participating countries come together for ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ in a celebration of culture, innovation and science, and attracted 24 million visits by residents and global travellers during the six-month long extravaganza. Other global events that helped drive international visitation included the Dubai World Cup, World Government Summit, Binance Blockchain Week, Dubai Desert Classic, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship, Gulfood, Dubai International Boat Show, and the iconic Dubai Shopping Festival. In addition to ATM 2022 and the ongoing Dubai Food Festival, the city is set to substantially increase tourist arrivals by leveraging other major events in 2022 including the 25th edition of Dubai Summer Surprises, the region’s biggest festival of its kind that will strengthen Dubai’s appeal as a family-friendly destination for the summer period. This year, DET will also celebrate 10 years of the city’s official events listings platform Dubai Calendar.

The consistent use of innovative global campaigns to further highlight the city’s diverse destination proposition and reach international markets also played a major part in accelerating momentum during Q1 including the ongoing global campaign, Dubai Presents featuring Hollywood stars Jessica Alba and Zac Efron. Filmed by Director’s Guild award-winning director Craig Gillespie, Dubai Presents, which was launched in late 2021, has been rolled out in 27 countries across 16 languages via cinema, print, broadcast, out of home, digital and social media channels. It has generated over 850 million views across multiple platforms since its launch – driving enquiries, stimulating engagement and spurring bookings. In March, the campaign featured yet another celebrity with the release of ‘Dubai Presents: Shah Rukh Khan in Dubai’, which sees the Bollywood superstar bringing into focus the best experiences that Dubai offers to international travellers.

Sustainability initiatives
As the travel industry continues to evolve and innovate, Dubai has launched major initiatives designed to meet the needs of a new generation of travellers who are seeking to explore destinations that are committed to sustainability. The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan will further reinforce the city’s diverse development programmes embedded with sustainability features. In February 2022, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai launched the pioneering Dubai Can sustainability initiative, designed to encourage people to undertake simple lifestyle changes to inspire mass action to actively reduce the use of single-use plastic bottles, as part of efforts to enhance Dubai’s position as a leading sustainable destination.

Innovative approach to drive growth
New strategic, legislative and regulatory enablers including the recent announcement of more options under the Golden Visa category, as well as the increase in the duration of the tourist visa from 30 days to 60 days, commencing from September, are set to further boost visitor arrivals and encourage visitors to stay longer and explore the city’s diverse offerings, while also supporting those who are considering a permanent move to Dubai. This is in addition to the property investor and entrepreneur visas and Retire in Dubai and Virtual Working programmes – giving more flexibility and options for talent to visit and stay, and highlighting Dubai’s position as a global destination for business, investment and tourism.

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