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Dubai maintains tourism growth momentum with 5.18 million international overnight visitors in first quarter of 2024

Dubai maintains tourism growth momentum with 5.18 million international overnight visitors in first quarter of 2024
6 May 2024 15:08

DUBAI (ALETIHAD)


Dubai welcomed 5.18 million international overnight visitors from January to March 2024, an 11 percent rise over the 4.67 million tourist arrivals during the same period in 2023, according to data published by Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) at the 31st edition of Arabian Travel Market (ATM).

Following a milestone year in 2023, with Dubai receiving a record 17.15 million international overnight visitors, the city’s tourism industry is building on the momentum in the first quarter of the year, driven by the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

This growth also aligns with the ambitious goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33, to further consolidate Dubai’s position as a leading global city for business and leisure.

Commending the achievement, H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, said, “The number of visitors in the first quarter of 2024 indicates that Dubai is on course for another standout performance this year after the emirate received a record number of visitors last year, with international visitors reaching 17.15 million. This will ensure that the tourism sector continues its growth journey in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and in line with the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33), which aims to strengthen its position as a leading global city for business and leisure.”

He added, “Integrating diverse aspects, the blueprint behind Dubai’s success as a tourist destination is based on the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and it has gained the trust of visitors from around the world. Effective promotion efforts showcase the best of Dubai for tourists, but it has also invested for years in developing world-class infrastructure that serves citizens, residents, and visitors alike. The performance of various sectors has been enhanced in line with the highest international standards and best practices with the ultimate goal of becoming the smartest, most advanced and agile city, serving everyone who resides on its land or visits it as an honourable guest.”

Sheikh Hamdan praised the efforts of the DET in successfully promoting the emirate at a global level and showcasing the distinguished experience that it is keen to provide visitors, noting that its well-considered strategies are clearly reflected in the steady growth in tourist numbers.

His Highness also expressed his appreciation for the efforts of all strategic partners in the private sector for their contributions in highlighting the attractiveness of Dubai and emphasised the importance of strengthening cooperation between the public and private sectors to ensure that the emirate continued to retain its lead on the global tourism map in coming years as well.

Sheikh Hamdan stated, “Ensuring the highest levels of tourist satisfaction translates into each visitor becoming an ambassador for Dubai, carrying to the world the image of a city that spares no effort for the happiness and comfort of its guests. We affirm our commitment to continue working to further enhance the capabilities of our tourism sector and diversify options we put at the disposal of our guests, ensuring that these always exceed their expectations. This is part of an ambitious economic strategy with a human element at its heart, the goal being to live up to every individual’s aspirations and requirements at multiple levels.”

No.1 Global Destination

Dubai’s exceptional performance reinforced global recognition for the destination, having begun 2024 by being named the No.1 global destination for an unprecedented third successive year in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, the first city to achieve this unique accolade.

The rise in international tourists during Q1 is the result of city-wide strategies established across vital pillars in the tourism sector, including sustainability, accessibility, entrepreneurship, and innovation, while various other key factors contributed to visitation growth.

The city hosted several major industry events, such as Arab Health, Gulfood and the Dubai International Boat Show, while new hotel openings included The Lana, Dorchester Collection’s first property in the Middle East; SIRO One Za’abeel, Dubai’s first fitness hotel; Marriott Marquis Dubai; and Hilton Dubai Creek Hotel & Residences. Catering to all budgets and preferences, Dubai’s diverse offerings are constantly evolving, supported by world-class infrastructure, exceptional service at all touchpoints, and continuous collaboration between the government and private sectors.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), said, “Under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the emirate’s continued record-breaking visitation performance demonstrates the sustained commitment to delivering on our long-term D33 Agenda goals, and further solidifies the pivotal role the tourism and hospitality sectors play in propelling Dubai’s positive growth trajectory.

“In addition to our high-performing tourism ecosystem, these figures also continue to be spurred by upswings in the number of international businesses setting up, existing companies expanding business lines and catchment footprint from Dubai, a very healthy MICE sector, and an influx of new talent relocating to the city, demonstrating the wide-reaching and synergistic impact of a successful and well calibrated D33 economic blueprint.”

Issam Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), said, “Inspired by the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and guided by the objectives of the D33 Agenda, Dubai is committed to further elevating standards across the emirate and expanding its tourism offering with innovative and distinctive world-class infrastructure, experiences and attractions.

“We will continue to drive strong global and market-specific campaigns, collaborating with our key domestic and international stakeholders and partners and taking a diversified marketing approach to promote Dubai to audiences around the world, exciting and inspiring potential new and repeat visitors.”

Bespoke Strategies and Activities

Dubai’s diversified approach, built on bespoke strategies and activities in more than 80 markets, helped maintain its position as a first-choice travel destination for visitors both from key traditional and emerging markets.

From January to March, the Western Europe region was Dubai’s biggest source market with 1.138 million arrivals, a 22 percent overall share, followed by South Asia with 869,000 visitors (17 percent) and CIS and Eastern Europe with 817,000 (16 percent). From a regional perspective, the GCC and MENA were fourth and fifth, accounting for 664,000 (13 percent) and 605,000 (12 percent) arrivals respectively.

The North-East Asia and South-East Asia region recorded 470,000 arrivals into Dubai (a 9 percent share), followed by the Americas 344,000 (7 percent), Africa 202,000 (4 percent) and Australasia 70,000 (1 percent).

From January to March this year, Dubai’s hotels maintained a room occupancy rate of 83 percent, a notable achievement given the 2 percent year-on-year increase in overall room supply to more than 152,000. Occupied room nights increased by 2 percent, with 11.2 million at the end of Q1 2024, compared to 10.98 million in 2023.

Average Daily Rate (ADR) rose to Dh638 during Q1, marking a notable increase of 5 percent compared to the same period in 2023, while Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) increased by 4 percent compared to last year, from Dh504 to Dh527.

This performance clearly indicates city hoteliers are maintaining competitive prices and revenues amid high levels of occupancy. Total available rooms in Dubai reached 152,162 by the end of March, up from 148,877 rooms in March 2023, while the number of establishments stood at 832 at the end of the first quarter, compared to 814 during the same period last year.

96,484 hotel rooms

Dubai had a substantial total of 96,484 hotel rooms across five-star and four-star establishments, representing a significant 64 percent share of the overall hotel rooms in the city, with average room occupancy typically ranging from 81 percent to 84 percent. One- to three-star hotels had a 19 percent share of Dubai’s overall hotel market, with the category comprising 29,100 rooms and a commendable 82 percent room occupancy rate. The hotel apartments segment boasted a total of 26,578 keys at the end of the first quarter and maintained a strong average room occupancy ranging from 84 percent to 85 percent.

Sustainable Tourism


With the UAE’s ‘Year of Sustainability’ extending into 2024, Dubai continues its commitment to sustainability by supporting global and country-wide objectives. Dubai’s tourism and hospitality sectors are spearheading this drive, with programmes and initiatives demonstrating the city’s ecotourism strategy.

Pioneering initiatives include those under the Dubai Can umbrella. The popular ‘Refill for Life’ campaign, promoting the use of reusable bottles and encouraging people to refill via 50 water fountains established throughout the city, has already seen the reduction in the usage of an equivalent of more than 18 million 500ml single-use plastic water bottles in just two years since its launch.

A second Dubai Can initiative, Dubai Reef, is the world’s largest marine reef development project and part of the city’s efforts to increase fish stocks and boost marine biodiversity. H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed recently inaugurated the landmark project’s pilot reef modules.

DET is creating new pathways to growth beyond traditional tourism, through investment, entrepreneurship, and attracting global talent. Offering vocational training and educational programmes, Dubai College of Tourism (DCT), part of DET, is committed to developing a skilled workforce to support the growth of the tourism sector. Dubai also offers entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a platform for ease of set-up and scale. Dubai SME provides financial support, mentorship, and resources to emerging entrepreneurs while Intelak Hub is the region’s only start-up platform dedicated to the travel, tourism, and aviation sectors.

Top Restaurants


Dubai’s gastronomic offering, catering to the diverse tastes of residents and visitors alike, continues to expand and is a cornerstone of the city’s tourism strategy. The city’s position as a global culinary capital was further established with 18 Dubai-based restaurants included in the 2024 MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants list, with four of them taking the top four places.

The ongoing expansion of the cruise sector is also seeing significant benefits for Dubai. In March this year, regional maritime and tourism authorities formalised the Cruise Arabia alliance – a strategic partnership that will promote the Arabian Gulf as a cruise ship destination globally and collaborate to enhance the cruise experience for passengers, attract more cruise liners, improve infrastructure at ports, and drive economic growth in the cruise tourism sector.

Dubai has been a significant player in the Cruise Arabia alliance, working closely with its partners to create interconnected and integrated regional cruise services.

Dubai’s status as a global entertainment hub is being bolstered by new attractions and a year-round calendar of business, leisure, and sporting events, which continue to attract international tourists. The city’s newest major opening is Real Madrid World, an exciting theme park within Dubai Parks and Resorts, and the first to be operating under the branding of the world-famous football club.

Meanwhile, organised by Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), some of Dubai’s biggest annual events were held during the first quarter of the year, including Dubai Shopping Festival. Currently taking place across the city until 12 May is the Dubai Food Festival, one of Dubai’s flagship events and a celebration of the city’s vibrant culinary scene.

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