Friday, June 14, 2024

Dubai draws record 17.15m overnight visitors in 2023

Dubai attracted 17.15 million international overnight visitors over the course of 2023, according to the latest data published by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).

Representing a 19.4 percent YoY growth over the 14.36 million tourist arrivals in 2022, last year’s figure also exceeded the previous record of 16.73 million visitors registered in 2019.

The growth aligns with the goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 launched just over a year ago by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to further consolidate Dubai’s position as one of the top three global cities for business and leisure, and the best city to visit, live and work in.

Celebrating a record-breaking year in 2023, Dubai further bolstered its ranking as the No 1 global destination for an unprecedented third successive year in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2024, the first city to achieve this unique accolade.

The milestones are testament to the emirate’s vibrant and diverse offerings, supported by world-class infrastructure, exceptional service at all touchpoints, and continuous collaboration between the government and private sectors.

The city caters to travelers of all budgets and preferences, and a year-round calendar of business, leisure and sporting events continues to attract international visitors.

The tourism sector’s performance closely parallels the emirate’s 3.3 percent GDP growth in the first nine months of 2023, further highlighting the symbiotic relationship between tourism and economic prosperity.

Accommodation and food services activities witnessed a remarkable 11.1 percent growth, solidifying Dubai’s position as a global tourism leader.

Dubai’s international visitor performance has outshone global tourism trends, with the latest data from the UN World Tourism Organisation revealing that, overall, international tourism reached 88 percent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023. The only region to overcome pre-pandemic levels with 22 percent visitation growth above 2019, the Middle East led global recovery in relative terms.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), said: “Our success stems from a diversified portfolio, with significant gains in leisure, new emerging segments, and the MICE sector as a whole, which have been further catalyzed by liberal visa policies and dynamic private sector ambition. These strides reinforce Dubai’s status as a premier destination for living, visiting, and conducting business.

Key regions maintain momentum 

The strong tourism performance in 2023 saw Dubai maintain its position as a first-choice travel destination for visitors both from key traditional and emerging markets. From a regional perspective, the GCC and MENA delivered a combined 28 percent of the share, demonstrating Dubai’s allure as a trusted and favored destination for visitors from neighboring markets.

Western Europe and South Asia accounted for 19 percent and 18 percent of arrivals respectively, while CIS/Eastern Europe recorded a 13 percent share. The North Asia and South-East Asia region accounted for 9 percent of arrivals, the Americas contributed 7 percent, Africa 4 percent and Australasia 2 percent.

Hotels Outperform Pre-pandemic Levels Across All Metrics 

Dubai’s hospitality sector, which is integral to the emirate’s destination promise and overall growth of the tourism industry, continued to perform strongly, surpassing pre-pandemic levels across all hospitality metrics – Occupancy, Occupied Room Nights, Guests’ Length of Stay, Average Daily Rate (ADR), and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR).

Occupancy remains among the highest in the world

Average occupancy for the hotel sector in 2023 stood at 77.4 percent, among the world’s highest, increasing from 72.9 percent in 2022 and exceeding the 75.3 percent average occupancy in 2019. The high occupancy level is an exceptional achievement, given an overall 19 percent increase in room supply in 2023 compared to 2019.

Milestone 150,000 room keys achieved

Dubai’s hotel inventory at the end of December 2023 comprised 150,291 rooms at 821 establishments, compared to 146,496 rooms available at the end of December 2022 across 804 establishments and 126,120 rooms available at the end of December 2019 across 741 establishments. Last year’s milestone achievement reflects the growth and success in the hospitality industry.

Occupied room nights surge to record high

In 2023, occupied room nights soared to a record high of 41.70 million, marking a 11 percent increase compared to 2022 (37.43 million). This growth also represents a substantial 30 percent rise from the pre-pandemic figures of 2019, which saw 32.11 million occupied room nights.

Reflecting the commitment of the city and hospitality sector to offer competitive pricing, the 2023 ADR of AED536 matched the ADR in 2022. The hotel sector’s robust performance is also evident in its RevPAR growth – an increase of 6 percent compared to 2022 (AED415 vs. AED391) and a growth of 33 percent over the pre-pandemic period of 2019 (RevPAR of AED312). Guests’ Length of Stay was 3.8 nights in 2023, a 10 percent increase from 3.4 nights in 2019.

Issam Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), said: “As Dubai continues its exponential growth in alignment with the D33 Agenda set forth by our forward-thinking leadership, we remain committed to further elevating our standards and to advancing with innovative and distinctive world-class infrastructure, experiences and attractions.”

Global Liveability Hub

In addition to securing the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, Dubai also garnered recognition across various fronts, offering residents and visitors a unique blend of opportunities, safety, and world-class amenities in a vibrant and dynamic setting.

In a report by financial services provider Remitly, Dubai was hailed as the No.1 city in the world to relocate to in 2023, showcasing its allure as a preferred destination for individuals seeking new opportunities and a high quality of life.

Furthermore, property consultancy Savills identified Dubai as the best city in the world for remote workers, emphasizing its conducive environment for professionals embracing the virtual working lifestyle.

Dubai’s appeal as a thriving global hub was further highlighted by Euromonitor International’s Top 100 City Destinations Index 2023, which named Dubai the world’s No.2 city destination, highlighting its popularity among international travelers.

The city’s recognition as one of the top 10 cities in the Global Power City Index, as reported by the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies in Japan, further reinforces its stature as a key player on the global stage.

Global Partnerships and Campaigns 

As part of its year-round drive to showcase Dubai to the world, DET entered into a landmark collaboration with Spanish football giants Real Madrid Club de Fútbol.

The multi-year agreement has brought together two iconic brands and builds on Real Madrid’s longtime partnership with Dubai’s flagship airline, Emirates, while Dubai Parks and Resorts will also be home to the first Real Madrid-themed-park, Real Madrid World.

International Events Destination 

Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) positions Dubai as an international entertainment hub, and in 2023, the city hosted an array of year-round events spearheaded by the iconic Dubai Shopping Festival.

The region’s leading destination for business events, Dubai attracts a wide range of business travelers through its calendar of annual exhibitions and trade shows that are among the largest in the world.

Major business and leisure events held in 2023 included Gulfood (134,000 visitors and 5,000 exhibitors), Gitex Global Dubai (170,000 visitors and 6,000 exhibitors), the International Boat Show (30,000 visitors) and Arabian Travel Market (40,000 visitors).

Dubai Business Events, part of DET and the city’s official convention bureau, ensured continued growth in this space by working with stakeholders to win a record 349 bids to host international conferences, congresses, meetings, and incentive travel programs over the coming years.

Culinary Innovation and Accolades

Dubai is a modern culinary capital with 13,000 restaurants and cafes offering a wide variety of cuisines and experiences. Following its launch in 2022, the second edition of the Michelin Guide Dubai was released in 2023, with three new one-star restaurants and one new two-starred included.

In total, the 2023 guide featured 90 restaurants, up from 69, including three that were awarded two stars, 11 with one star, three with a Green Star, 17 Bib Gourmands and 59 Michelin-selected restaurants.

Two homegrown Dubai restaurants were included in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List for 2023. Tresind Studio was ranked at No.11, Orfali Bros Bistro was No.46 while Ossiano was part of the extended list, at No.87. There were also 113 Dubai restaurants included in the Gault&Millau UAE 2023 guide.

Delivering on Sustainability Goals

Dubai is a leader in sustainability, with its efforts aligning with global objectives, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030. Aligned with the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 and the UAE’s Net Zero 2050 strategy, the ongoing Dubai Sustainable Tourism (DST) drive initiated by DET provides support for the hospitality industry through several programs.

In July 2023, DET launched the Dubai Sustainable Tourism Stamp, a new initiative, as part of DST, that recently recognized 70 hotels with the highest level of adherence to DET’s ‘19 Sustainability Requirements’, the first of its kind in the region.

Other sustainability initiatives include Dubai Can, with its ‘Refill for Life’ campaign promoting the use of reusable bottles and encouraging people to refill via 50 water fountains established throughout the city.

A second Dubai Can project, the Dubai Reef, was launched in December 2023. One of the world’s largest marine reef developments, Dubai Reef is part of the city’s efforts to increase fish stocks, support sustainable fishing, and contribute to boosting food security.

DET also relaunched the pioneering Carbon Calculator tool that measures the carbon footprint within Dubai’s hospitality sector. The city’s sustainability profile received a significant boost towards the end of 2023 when the UAE hosted COP28, the UN Climate Change Conference, at Expo City Dubai.

Global Cruise and Tourism Destination

Dubai’s 2023-2024 cruise season was launched with the arrival of the luxury liner Mein Schiff 2 in October. The vessel docked at the Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal at Mina Rashid, marking the start of another exciting period for cruise enthusiasts.

Dubai’s position as the region’s cruise hub is further validated by the city being awarded the Best Port at the Cruceroadicto Awards in Spain, an international recognition of the best cruise lines, ships, and ports selected by global cruise travelers.

With 15 marinas, more than 3,600 berths and seamless support facilities for pleasure crafts, superyachts and gigayachts, Dubai has also become a magnet for global yacht tourism.

Another major initiative announced in 2023 was the Dubai Master Plan for Public Beaches, which aims to increase the length of public beaches by 400 percent by 2040 and increase services offered on public beaches by 300 percent by 2025. Dubai’s tourism offering will be further expanded with the implementation of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan.

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