BY Demola Ojo
A total of 11.58 million international overnight visitors arrived in Dubai during the first nine months of 2017, reflecting a 7.5 per cent increase over the same period last year, keeping the Emirate on track for another record year in tourist volumes, according to the latest data released by Dubaiâ€™s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).
India retained top spot on Dubaiâ€™s list of source markets for inbound tourism, with 1,478,000 Indian tourists arriving in the city between January and September, registering a significant 20 per cent rise over the same period in 2016.
This increase affirmed the effectiveness of various innovative promotional activities driven by Dubai Tourism in the market, including highly successful influencer-led collaborations with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
Meanwhile, China stayed in fifth place with impressively large 49 per cent year-on-year growth, delivering 573,000 visitors in the first nine months of the year and continuing to benefit from regulatory changes introduced in late 2016 granting Chinese citizens free visa-on-arrival access to the UAE.
Saudi Arabia and the UK also retained their positions as Dubaiâ€™s second and third largest feeder markets respectively. A total of 1,250,000 Saudis and 905,000 British travellers arrived in the emirate between January and September 2017, the former showing a slight drop compared to the first nine months of 2016, reflecting the ongoing economic challenges facing Saudi Arabia, while the UK witnessed a resilient 2 per cent year-on-year increase despite continued Brexit instability.
Almost all the top 10 markets â€“ with the exception of Oman and Kuwait, which saw declines of 23 and 3 per cent respectively â€“ posted healthy increases in tourist traffic, including sixth-placed US up 6 per cent, seventh-placed Pakistan up 4 per cent, eighth-placed Iran up 16 per cent and ninth-placed Germany up 6 per cent.
Among the top 20 feeders of traffic, Russia topped the growth charts, posting an increase of 95 per cent and continuing the pronounced resurgence seen earlier in the year following the February introduction of UAE visa-on-arrival access for Russian citizens.
Philippines in 11th position, France in 15th, Jordan in 17th and Lebanon in 19th also saw double-digit year-on-year increases of 10, 12, 18 and 15 per cent respectively, with 13th-placed Egypt, 16th-placed Italy and 18th-placed Canada showing lower, yet stable increases at 2, 4 and 1 per cent respectively. Only two markets â€“Australia and Bahrain â€“ witnessed nominal declines of 2 per cent each.
From a regional perspective, the GCC emerged as the largest contributor of overnight visitor volumes, with a 21 per cent share compared to second-placed Western Europeâ€™s 20 per cent.
These were closely followed by South Asia with a share of 18 per cent, the Mena and North and South-East Asia regions with 11 per cent each, the Americas and the Russia, CIS and Eastern Europe bloc with 6 per cent each, Africa with 5 per cent and Australasia with 2 per cent.
The wide geographical spread reflects Dubaiâ€™s diversified market strategy aimed at driving consideration from a broad spectrum of countries and visitor segments.
As Dubai continues to evolve and expand its offerings across all pillars of its destination proposition, these latest figures affirm the strength of the emirateâ€™s tourism industry as well as the growing attractiveness of Dubai as a leisure and business destination.