Saudi tourists played a vital role in boosting the Dubai tourism sector last year. The Kingdom, which has consistently been Dubai’s primary source market, experienced a big boost with guest numbers up by 19.9 percent to 1.35 million. In 2012, Dubai received 1.13 million visitors from Saudi Arabia.

In total, Dubai’s hotels welcomed more than 11 million guests in 2013, an increase of just over one million on the 2012 numbers.

According to statistics released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Saudi Arabia (1,353,819), India (888,835), the UK (758,657), the United States (510,423), Russia (403,990), Kuwait (336,032), Germany (324,352), Oman (290,826), Iran (277,847) and China (275,675) made up the top 10 for the January-December 2013 period.

Australia (269,147), Pakistan (259,457), Egypt (207,327), France (186,438), Qatar (171,742), Philippines (135,638), Italy (132,992), Jordan (119,602), Lebanon (111,682) and the Netherlands (100,934) are the other toppers.

Guest numbers across all hotel establishments (hotels and hotel apartments) in 2013 reached 11,012,487, a 10.6 percent increase on the 9,957,161of 2012.

“The strong growth shown in hotel establishment guests in 2013 is a positive first step on our journey to 2020. Having announced the Tourism Vision for 2020 in May 2013, a 10.6 percent growth in hotel establishment guests demonstrates that we are on the track to double the 10 million tourists received in 2012 to 20 million per year by 2020 and is an affirmation of the destination’s ever increasing appeal,” says Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of DTCM.

The Australian market experienced the most growth, with numbers up by 39 percent from more than 193,000 in 2012 to more than 269,000 in 2013. China ranked 10th also continued to show a significant increase, with visitors up by 11 percent.

Revenues for hoteliers and hotel apartment operators saw significant growth with total revenues up by 16.1 percent reaching AED21.84 billion for 2013.

Total guest nights also recorded increases, up 11 percent to 41.57 million compared to 37.45 million in 2012.

Occupancy rates for hotels’ rooms and apartments increased from 78 percent to 80 percent, while the occupancy rate for hotel apartments was 82 percent, up 6.5 percent when compared to 2012.

The number of hotel rooms and apartments at the end of 2013 amounted to a total of 84,534 (611 establishments) compared to 80,414 (599 establishments) in 2012, representing an increase of over 5 percent.

In the current development pipeline for 2014-2016, there will be an additional 141 hotel establishments added to the market, including 99 hotels and 48 hotel apartments, bringing the total to 751 hotel establishments and just under 114,000 rooms.

“A 16.1 percent increase in revenues for our hoteliers is an indicator of the healthy state of the hospitality industry while an occupancy rate of 82 percent demonstrates to the hotel investment industry that Dubai is one of the world’s most attractive investment opportunities. In order to provide accommodation for our targeted visitor numbers for 2020, we estimate the need for a total of around 140,000 to 160,000 rooms and will work closely with the investment industry to make this happen,” Almarri added.

Photo Credit: An aerial view of Atlantis hotel is seen with The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai in this December 21, 2009 file photo. The revolts that began in Tunisia at the end of 2010 and spread across the Middle East and North Africa had a devastating impact on tourism, but not everyone in the region lost out. While recovery from the turmoil has been at best tentative, at worst non existent, places where the Arab Spring has not reached have been unexpected beneficiaries. Matthias Seifert / Reuters