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Regional visitors are still the largest drivers of Dubai’s tourism growth, but growing European markets and lengthier hotel stays points to the city’s burgeoning status as a global destination.

Tourist numbers to Dubai increased by 9.3 percent in 2012, with the city welcoming more than 10 million visitors in a year for the first time, according to official figures.

The results were announced by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) which said increases in hotel guest numbers, nights, average length of stay and hotel revenues demonstrated Dubai’s “strengthening position as one of the world’s most popular destinations”.

Hotel revenues jumped 17.9 percent at AED18.82bn ($5.12bn), the DTCM added in a statement.

Helal Almarri, director general of DTCM, said: “For the first time in our city’s history we have crossed the ten million threshold in visitor numbers.”

Figures for hotel guests and cruise passengers rose to approximately 10.16 million with hotel guests alone totalling 9.96 million compared to 9.1 million in 2011.

DTCM data also showed that guest nights increased by 14 percent to 37.4 million in 2012 compared to 32.8 million in 2011

Dubai saw an influx of new hotels last year with the number of properties rising from 575 to 599.

Openings in 2012 included five-star properties such as Jumeirah Creekside, Fairmont The Palm and the JW Marriott Marquis, and a range of new hotel apartments.

Despite the additional supply, average room rates climbed from AED563 in 2011 to AED588 in 2012.

Almarri added: “The growth across each indicator is a welcome confirmation of Dubai’s ever-increasing appeal and a testament to the aggressive marketing and promotional agenda of DTCM in positioning Dubai as the major tourist hub of the region and a global destination of choice.”

Arab markets continued to provide a significant percentage of Dubai’s overall visitor numbers and 2012 saw 30 percent more visitors from Saudi Arabia, the number one source market.

Europe contributed over a quarter of the city’s hotel guests and the past year saw a substantial rise in the number of Russians coming to Dubai.

A 28 percent increase in Chinese visitors was also seen, and tourism chiefs said the Chinese market will continue to be a key focus.

Almarri said: “The growth in visitors is partly linked to the increasing cross-border trade and investment ties that the city is making with growing economies such as China. As these links continue to develop, visitors from these nations will continue to rise.”

© 2013 ITP Business Publishing Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Provided by an company

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Tags: dubai, tourism

Photo credit: Dubai at night as seen from Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Kamel Lebtahi / Flickr

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