Dubai welcomed 16.73 million overnight visitors in 2019
Dubai welcomed 16.73 million overnight visitors in 2019, a rise of 5.1 % compared to 2018, with double-digit growth in arrivals from key source markets.
Even as the world witnessed the first Emirates Airline flight take to the skies from one sandy airstrip in 1985, the unwavering confidence, steely determination, and ambitious vision of the city and its leadership was not lost on the international community that has since, closely followed the meteoric rise of Dubai to its current global repute across tourism, trade and business. Today, Dubai stands well and truly established as a leading international tourism destination having achieved several milestones over its relatively short history, and was 2019’s fourth most visited destination according to MasterCard’s Global Cities Index, welcoming 16.73 million tourists from over 233 countries around the globe.
Dubai’s tourism sector has consistently surpassed global industry average growth, thanks to a synchronised, city-wide delivery model that has brought together regulatory access, immigration policy, physical infrastructure, urban spatial development, and above all - an unmistakably ‘Dubai Way’ service culture that embodies the spirit of the city as a welcoming host to the world. Driven by the endorsement of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and the mandate for Dubai to become the most-visited city in the world, Dubai Tourism has continued to relentlessly pursue its quest towards this goal, and furthering the sector’s economic contribution. At the end of 2019, tourism was responsible for contributing an impressive 11.5 per cent in GDP value, Dubai’s tourism sector was ranked one of ‘Top 10’ strongest economic share generators, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Cities Report 2019 - a statistic of particularly enhanced significance as we stand amidst a wholly altered context six months into 2020, where the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked undeniable havoc on the global economy.
Since the tail-end of 2019, the travel and tourism sector has seen the impacts of the health crisis, and it has understandably been one of the most significantly disrupted industries to date. Yet, the circumstances have forced a reconsideration of a future for global tourism where the convenience of speed, simplicity of access, and assumed safety of destinations are no longer a given. Disruption is engrained in our DNA and as Dubai Tourism we have risen to every challenge from the disintermediation of the traditional travel supply chain, to the rising dominance of technology empowering the globally savvy travel audience, and social media driving the hyper-connected millennial and Generation Z travellers. With infinite possibilities to explore, and opportunities to exploit, this is our time to fuel new thinking, accelerate collaborative solution sourcing, reimagine and reshape our collective future with our stakeholders - for it is how we choose to respond, adapt and evolve today, that will set us on the path to pioneering the future of global tourism tomorrow.
As we set our sights on the next horizon, our first priority remains safeguarding our people - residents across our communities and visitors to the city. The world has witnessed the unwavering stewardship and exemplary success of the UAE Government’s handling of the pandemic thus far, and that is testament to the diligence and rigour with which future protocols will be deployed to assure the health and safety of every traveller who visits Dubai. Equally, economic sustainability and industry sustenance are core to assuring continued ability of the tourism sector to drive healthy GDP value, and as such, the city has been prudent and agile to respond to the changing market realities with much-needed business stimulus to weather the short-term turbulences while gearing up for a practical restart of activities. With business across tourism, hospitality, retail, and F&B in various phases of reopening already, Dubai continues to exhibit its trademark resilience, backed by the solidarity of all public and private sector stakeholders as well as the commitment of its international partner networks, as the city gears up to welcome back millions of travellers from every corner of the world.
The 2019 Visitor Report serves to highlight Dubai’s progress as the world’s fourth most visited destination, surpassing all prior records in international visitor arrivals to the city. Invariably, the developments throughout 2020 will focus a kaleidoscopic lens on travel behaviours and expectations for the future. Yet, as much as things might change in the near term, we believe that the fundamentals on the human need for travel, the essential experiential gratification or the service pre-requisites, and the ‘memory’ value that travellers seek, will remain unchanged. What we urge the reader to discern from this report are these essential points of continued relevance and crucial learning that will serve as our foundational baseline to build on, as we look to accelerate our growth through 2021 and beyond.
As always, our most humble gratitude and deepest appreciation to all our partners, our government stakeholders, our industry stakeholders, and our loyal Dubai visitors for enabling our 2019 results - and we cannot wait to welcome the world back to our city very soon.