Dubai welcomed 7.28 million international overnight visitors between January and December 2021, representing 32 percent year-over-year growth (YoY). This marked a significant moment in global tourism recovery, setting the city firmly on course to achieving sustainable growth and becoming the world’s most visited destination.
According to the latest data published by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), over 3.4 million guests visited the city in Q4 2021, achieving 74 percent of the total pre-pandemic tourist arrivals of Q4 2019. It also paved the way for hotels in Dubai to deliver a stellar fourth quarter performance that surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
Indian visitors led arrivals, with 910,000 visitors (5.3 percent y-o-y), followed by 491,000 travelers from Saudi Arabia (+22.8 percent y-o-y) while Russia and the UK contributed 444,000 visitors (+50.3 percent y-o-y) and 420,000 visitors (+7.1 percent y-o-y) respectively.
Robust international visitation was boosted by strong tourism arrivals from regional markets. MENA and GCC markets collectively contributed to 26 percent of the total volumes. Western Europe accounted for 22 percent of total visitors in 2021, with visitation led by the UK, followed by France, Germany, Italy and Netherlands. South Asia contributed 18 percent of the international visitation with Russia, CIS and Eastern Europe together making a 15 percent contribution.
With domestic tourism accounting for a large share in the accommodation sector, Dubai’s hotels performed strongly in Q4 2021 to achieve significant growth across all hospitality metrics compared to 2020. For the first time, the hotel sector outperformed pre-pandemic levels across all measurements in Q4 2021.
The opening of Expo 2020 Dubai in October 2021 marked the start of an incredible era for the city’s tourism industry, attracting nearly 12 million visits so far.
In addition, 2021 saw further strides in broadening Dubai’s appeal to a wider spectrum of visitors with the opening of new attractions and leisure destinations, including Ain Dubai, Deep Dive Dubai, Hatta Dome Park and The View at The Palm, as well as leveraging the opportunities provided by festivals and events like the Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises, Dubai Fitness Challenge, Gulfood, ATM and Gitex.
Besides being selected as the world’s most popular destination, Dubai was voted the world’s number-one destination for “City Lovers” and fourth destination for “Food Lovers” in Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards 2022.
The drive to make Dubai the city of the future will be largely through the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, which aims to expand Dubai’s offering and place a reimagined focus on enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors to the city, while further consolidating Dubai’s reputation as a global destination for business, investment and tourism. Dubai continues to launch bold regulatory initiatives to promote accelerated growth of the tourism sector including streamlining access to the emirate by establishing hassle-free entry procedures for business and leisure travelers, as well as long-term engagement with the city. These include the five-year multi-entry visa for employees of multinational companies and the new timeshare law and portal to help pave the way for a world-class vacation ownership market in Dubai. Other initiatives include the Golden Visa, targeting investors, entrepreneurs and specialized talents, and the virtual working and “Retire in Dubai” programs.