Dubai witnesses 17% rise in international visitors in first quarter of 2023

The Emirate has ‘solidified its position as the premier global tourism destination’

Dubai welcomed more than 4.67 million international visitors in the first three months of 2023 — the city’s best Q1 performance since the Covid-19 pandemic. This marks a 17 per cent year-on-year growth, placing it firmly on track to becoming the most visited international destination, according to latest data published by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).

According to Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the emirate has “solidified its position as the premier global tourism destination”.

“(The achievement) is a testament to the successful implementation of the D33 Agenda’s forward-thinking strategy. Fueled by its thriving economy, Dubai remains at the forefront of the global tourism industry’s recovery,” Sheikh Hamdan posted on Twitter on Monday.

The latest industry results – announced at the ongoing 30th edition of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) – positions Dubai as the fastest recovering destination globally, achieving 98 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in Q1 2023. They exceed the projection made by the United Nations World Trade Organisation that international tourist arrivals could reach between 80-95 per cent of pre-pandemic levels this year.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed said: “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 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.”

Strong rebound

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.

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.

Dubai’s traditional source markets delivered solid tourism volumes during the first quarter of the year. GCC and MENA combined was the top region, collectively contributing to 29 per cent of total volumes. Western Europe accounted for 22 per cent of tourism arrivals, while South Asia, accounted for 16 per cent, followed by CIS and Eastern Europe (15 per cent), Americas (7 per cent), North Asia and South East Asia (6 per cent), Africa (4 per cent) and Australasia (1 per cent).

The majority of the regions have demonstrated significant increase in Q1 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Four regions have fully recovered and surpassed Q1 2019 levels – CIS and Eastern Europe. Both South Asia and Western Europe are close to achieving pre-pandemic levels in terms of tourism volumes.

Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of DET, said: “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. “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.”

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