Dubai tourist arrivals flat in the first half of 2018

The emirate saw visitor numbers from China and Russia surge but little growth overall



Dubai saw relatively little growth in overnight international tourist visitors in the first half of the year, according to figures from the emirate’s tourism body.

Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) said there were 8.10 million visitors in the first six months of 2018, up 0.5 per cent on the 8.06 million seen in the same period of 2017.

This was significantly slower than the 10.6 per cent growth seen in H1 last year.

Read: Dubai tourist traffic increases 10.6% in the first half of 2017

The top source market was India, up 3 per cent to more than 1 million visitors, followed by Saudi Arabia and the UK.

China took fourth place after seeing visitors increase 9 per cent on the same period last year to 453,000, while Russian visitors were up 74 per cent to 405,000.

Nationals from both countries have been granted visa on arrival entry to the UAE over the last two years.

Read: UAE to grant visas on arrival to Russian visitors

Arrivals from the US and Germany, the seventh and eighth largest source markets, also increased to 327,000 and 302,000 respectively.

Dubai Tourism said the emirate was on track for projected growth into the second half of 2018.

“The first six months of 2018 have both generated and sustained a steady performance, supporting strong growth across our global feeder markets,” said the organisation’s director general Helal Saeed Almarri.

“Attracting 8.10 million visitors during the first half of 2018 stands us in good stead as we accelerate momentum towards our visionary aspiration of becoming the most visited city in the world.”

The UAE Cabinet has recently announced a number of measures to boost visitor numbers including a new transit visa policy allowing all passengers travelling through the country’s airports an exemption from entry fees for a 48-hour visit.

Dependants under the age of 18 are also now exempt from visa fees during the summer months.

Read: UAE announces visa fee exemptions for tourists during summer

Separately, Dubai Tourism is working on a scheme to lure passengers from Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international passenger traffic, into the city and has announced a number of discount incentives for visitors.

Read: Dubai lures transit passengers with airport experience

The emirate hopes to attract 20 million tourists a year by 2020 from 15.79 million in 2017.

Read: Dubai sees tourist growth accelerate in 2017

The city’s hotel inventory stood at 111,317 rooms in the first half of 2018, up 7 per cent on the same period last year. Occupied rooms nights increased from 14.53 million to 14.97 million.