Dubai’s H1 data shows 3pc growth

Miracle Garden is a popular family destination: the recent tourist visa fee waiver for accompanied children under 18 years of age, has augmented Dubai’s position as a leading family-friendly tourism destination

Dubai welcomed 8.36 million international overnight visitors in the first six months (January-June) of 2019, posting a positive three per cent in tourism volume growth compared to the same period last year, according to the latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).

India once again led the pack, drawing the highest half year volumes with 997,000 visitors – although this was 8 per cent lower than the same period last year. Dubai continued to drive booking interest from Indians due to high-impact delivery of segment- and season-specific campaigns across the most accessible Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities. Travel share of Indian families with children rose by a substantial 10 percentage points from 24 to 34 per cent, directly reflecting higher GDP impact due to party size and spend potential.

Coming in strong as Dubai’s second largest feeder market once again, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) delivered 755,000 visitors at two per cent year-on-year growth over six months with a notable 4.9 per cent increase over the Eid break alone – signifying continued stability in Dubai’s attractiveness for Saudi families and millennials.

With the GCC as a whole, and KSA (as its lead contributor), being key priorities on Dubai Tourism’s strategic agenda, investments in deepening alliances with the country’s travel ecosystem continued to increase in H1 2019, reflecting the value of such partnerships – particularly via consolidated marketing-promotions-sales programmes.

Staying firmly within Dubai’s top three traffic drivers, the UK delivered 586,000 travellers beating all odds against a significantly devalued British pound (vs. US Dollar), amidst growing political and economic turbulences surrounding Brexit.

With over 501,000 Chinese visitors to Dubai from January to June 2019, the stellar 11 per cent year-on-year growth from inarguably the world’s most aggressively sought-after consumers is testament to Dubai Tourism’s successful strategies to maintain high conversion appeal for China’s outbound market. Notable successes this year include the launch of the Dubai Mini Assistant, an enhancement of the city-experience Mini Program, one of the applications of WeChat, with 10 new mobile-based digital audio tours to highlight in-city accessibility, local historic sites and cultural landmarks for Chinese netizens.

Very close on China’s heels, the second GCC stronghold – Oman – catapulted into the top five with a massive 28 per cent growth to land 499,000 visitors to Dubai, as Dubai Tourism’s seasonal campaigns, tactical programmes and city activations reaped tangible dividends.

Following an exceptional resurgence in Dubai travel for 2018, thanks to the visa-on-arrival enablement, growth from Russia levelled to more sustainable levels, as H1 2019’s sixth largest source market delivered 375,000 visitors to Dubai.

The United States followed in seventh spot with 329,000 visitors, marginally up from 327,000 visitors in H1 2018, supported by concerted marketing efforts and trade collaborations with five new trade partnerships developed in the first half of 2019, to raise awareness of the destination and promote holiday packages and deals.

Germany’s five per cent growth to deliver 316,000 visitors, and Pakistan’s three per cent growth to yield 253,000 visitors, brought them in at eighth and ninth positions respectively, as Philippines jumped three ranks into the top 10 finishing a strong first half with 216,000 travellers, reflecting a 29 per cent increase that made it the fastest growing source market for Dubai this year.

The recent nationwide implementation of a tourist visa fee waiver for children under 18 years of age, who are accompanied by their parents, has augmented Dubai’s position as a leading family-friendly tourism destination.

Between January and June 2019, further strides were made to expand Dubai’s hospitality offering to match the evolving needs of visitors, with the opening of new hotels including Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre, W Hotel Palm Jumeirah, Studio One Hotel, Rove at the Park at Dubai Parks and Resorts, Premier Inn Hotel Al Jadaf and Vida Emirates Hills. 

Average occupancy for the hotel sector stood at 76 per cent – one of the highest hotel sector occupancies in the world – with establishments delivering a combined 15.71 million occupied room nights during the first six months of the year, a five per cent increase over the same period in 2018.