Dubai Is Officially Over The Pandemic, Tourism Hits New Record

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Skift Take

With the help of Russians in the first half, Brits in the second half, and Indians all the way through, Dubai scrapes its best year for tourism.

Dubai saw 17 million visitors in 2023, the emirate’s best-ever year for tourism and the first year ahead of pre-pandemic numbers. The news was shared in a brief tweet by the city’s crown prince, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.

The prince wrote: “The city is at the forefront of the global tourism sector, with one of the world’s highest hotel occupancy rates.”

Before Covid-19 struck, the emirate had set out to reach 20 million travelers by 2020, and it managed to hit 16.73 million for 2019. We don’t yet have a set goal for tourism in 2024.

In 2023, occupancy levels averaged 77.4% for the year across Dubai’s 800-plus hotels and 150,000 rooms. Further information such as source markets, average rooms rates and revenues are yet to be released by Dubai Tourism.

The most up-to-date data we have on source markets goes up to October 2023 but the rest of the year is likely to have followed similar trends. India was the top source market with 1.9 million visitors at that time, followed by the UK with 954,000 and nearby Saudi Arabia with 930,000.

In the first half of this year, it was Russia boosting Dubai’s tourism sector.

2024 Goals for Dubai Tourism

Dubai Tourism CEO Issam Kazim said in December that the emirate would look to improve its marketing around affordability this year.

Speaking at the Skift Global Forum East 2023, Kazim said: “Affordability comes hand in hand with supply. The perception people have of Dubai is because of specific properties and specific districts. Those are the usual suspects. But you can find amazing affordable options in Dubai.”

He said their lack of recognition is a marketing issue.

“We need people to realize all the supply beyond the usual suspects. It’s a marketing issue, it’s a communication issue.”

Kazim added that Dubai as a destination has matured, moving away from building superlative mega-structures for the sake of image, and more towards becoming a place tourists would want to one day live.

He said: “We created landmark projects. Those got us attention. Once we had the spotlight, we began to showcase the beauty here. There are 200 nationalities here, that’s the true magic of the city.”

“People want to raise their kids here, they want to become global citizens. People don’t become “Dubians,” they retain their culture and they become global citizens. This is a multinational city.”

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