Dubai expects new visa policies to boost tourism after growth halts

Dubai Tourism director general Helal Almarri said the emirate would focus on stability in the fourth quarter “despite wider macro-economic challenges”



Dubai Tourism said it expected new visa policies being introduced by the UAE to boost tourist arrivals after growth was flat in the first nine months of the year.

The emirate welcomed 11.58 million tourists in the first three quarters of 2018, the same number seen to the end of September last year when arrivals surged 7.5 per cent.

Read: Dubai tourist arrivals flat in the first half of 2018

However, the official tourism body indicated it expected further visitor growth thanks to a new policy exempting transit passengers from visa fees for 48 hours and other incentives.

Read: UAE announces visa fee exemptions for tourists during summer

India maintained its position as the emirate’s leading source market, followed by Saudi Arabia and the UK in the first nine months of the year.

Russia, China and Germany were key drivers for new traffic, with the former seeing 60 per cent year-on-year visitor growth to 460,000 thanks to a visa on arrival policy introduced early last year.

Chinese visitors increased 12 per cent to 573,000, making it the fourth largest source market, and German visitors were up 15 per cent to 388,000.

“The first three quarters of 2018 have seen consistent interest from conventional feeder regions, complemented by some noteworthy spikes in high volume drivers and strong growth in more emerging markets as Dubai continues to actively target a diversified global base of travellers,” said Dubai Tourism director general Helal Almarri.

“With 11.58 million tourists to date this year, we have maintained our position as the fourth most visited city in the world according to the 2018 MasterCard Global Cities Index, and will continue to work towards delivering stability throughout Q4 despite wider macro-economic challenges.”

Hotel supply in the emirate increased 4 per cent year-on-year to 706 establishments and room supply was up 6 per cent to 106,167. Average occupancy stood at 75 per cent and there were a combined 21.89 million occupied room nights during the nine-month period.

US payments firm Mastercard said in a report released in September it expected Dubai to see 5.5 per cent growth in tourist arrivals this year.

Read: Dubai to see 5.5% growth in overnight tourists this year

Authorities are aiming to welcome 20 million tourists a year by 2020 and 23-25 million by 2025.

Read: Dubai aims for 23-25 million tourists a year by 2025