Dubai’s resurgent tourism industry is celebrating a successful first half of 2023, after welcoming a record 8.55 million international overnight visitors, compared to 8.36 million tourists in H1 2019.
Surpassing pre-pandemic visitation levels and further bolstering the city’s bid to become the world’s most visited destination, the latest data published by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) represents the industry’s best-ever H1 performance. The 20 percent YoY visitation growth contributes to the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda 2033, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to consolidate the emirate’s status as one of the world’s top three cities.
The record H1 performance reflects the successful and diverse city-wide drive to market the destination, with the unwavering support of stakeholders and partners, and under the guidance of Dubai’s visionary leadership. It also reaffirms Dubai’s position as the fastest-recovering destination globally, and far exceeds the projection made by the United Nations World Trade Organization that international tourist arrivals could reach between 80-95 percent of pre-pandemic levels this year.
His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai and chairman of the executive council of Dubai, said: “The remarkable surge in international visitors witnessed by Dubai in the first half of 2023 further demonstrates its emergence as one of the brightest spots not only in the worldwide tourism sector but also the broader global economic landscape. This accomplishment has been made possible by the foresight of Dubai’s leadership, whose vision and prudent policies fortified its resilience in the wake of global challenges and enabled it to rebound more swiftly than other markets. While the growth of international visitation reinforces Dubai’s rise as a major global tourism destination, it also signifies its status as a pivotal hub for trade, investment and enterprise.”
Crowned number one global destination for second year in a row
Dubai’s multifaceted offering and its readiness to cater to travelers with varying budgets and preferences has seen the city crowned the top destination in the world for the second consecutive year in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2023. This is only the second time in history that a city has won the coveted award two years in a row. Robust performance by key regions in the first half of 2023, Western Europe emerged as a significant contributor to tourism arrivals, accounting for 20 percent of total international visitation, while the GCC and MENA regions delivered a combined 28 percent of the regional share. South Asia held a 17 percent share of the total visitation, and Russia, CIS, and Eastern Europe combined contributed 14 percent. North Asia and Southeast Asia contributed 8 percent, while the Americas, Africa and Australasia contributed 7 percent, 4 percent and 2 percent respectively.
Key markets continue to deliver
In collaboration with domestic stakeholders and over 3,000 global partners, targeted campaigns highlighting the city’s unique offering, together with its dynamic global appeal and improved connectivity with various continents, resulted in Dubai achieving remarkable growth in key markets in the first half of 2023, notwithstanding current global economic headwinds and geo-political and air capacity challenges. Dubai’s hotels outperformed pre-pandemic levels across all hospitality metrics in H1 2023, including occupancy, average daily rate (ADR), revenue per available room (RevPAR) and length of stay. Among the highest in the world, Dubai hotels’ average occupancy of 78 percent was 2.2 percent points higher than the occupancy achieved for the same period in H1 2019. This growth is particularly noteworthy considering the 13 percent increase in hotel establishments and 26 percent increase in room capacity over the same period in 2019. Continued domestic and international investment in the sector further increased the hotel inventory, so much so that by the end of H1 2023, Dubai’s visitors and residents were able to choose from a total of 810 hotel establishments and 148,689 rooms, compared to 714 hotel establishments and 118,345 rooms at the end of H1 2019. The robust performance of the hotel sector is also evidenced by the fact that the average length of stay of guests increased to 3.9 nights (up from 3.5 nights in H1 2019), highlighting the city’s appeal for long-stay travelers, while the total of 20.73 million occupied room nights in the first half of the year represents a 12 percent YoY growth and a 32 percent increase compared to the pre-pandemic period of H1 2019. The average daily rate (ADR) of AED 534 during the first six months of the year surpassed the ADR of H1 2019 (AED 444), a 20 percent growth, while revenue per available room (RevPAR) of AED 415 in H1 2023, surged by 24 percent compared to the first six months of the pre-pandemic period of 2019 (AED 336).
Cruise and yachting hub of the region
Continuous investment in marine infrastructure and streamlined industry legislation have further elevated Dubai’s standing as a leading cruise and yachting destination. Demonstrating Dubai’s position as the region’s leading cruise hub, the emirate concluded a highly successful 2022/2023 cruise season, with a 125 percent increase in cruise tourist footfall that saw 762,887 visitors disembarking through the acclaimed Mina Rashid Terminal and the world-class Dubai Harbour.
Dubai’s gastronomy sector shines on global stage
The launch of the second edition of the MICHELIN Guide Dubai, featuring a total of 90 restaurants, including 17 Bib Gourmand winners, and the inclusion of three Dubai restaurants in the World’s Best Restaurants List for 2023 have contributed raising Dubai’s international profile as a culinary destination. The city’s 13,000 restaurants and cafes, which represent the cultures and cuisines of over 200 nationalities, have consolidated its global appeal as a gastronomic hub. Gault&Millau has also established itself in the city’s gastronomy scene with its annual UAE Guide, featuring top gourmet dining restaurants. An international events destination Dubai’s commitment to fostering a diverse events sector is reflected in its hosting of world-renowned festivals and leisure and business events in H1 2023.
Focus on sustainability
With 2023 designated as UAE’s Year of Sustainability, Dubai has ramped up efforts to achieve its goal of becoming a leading sustainable destination, consistently supporting UAE’s Net Zero 2050, a national drive to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.