Dubai's ambitious goal of 20 million visitors by 2020 is still on track, thanks to its prime location at the center of emerging and exiting markets, as well as significant investments in infrastructure that make it an increasingly attractive center for business.
Dubai had a record 14.2 million overnight visitors in 2015 keeping it on track to welcome more than 20 million travelers by 2020.
Dubai International Airport handled a record 78 million passengers last year, which means it converted just under 20% into over night stays. Atlanta, which is the top trafficked airport in the world, had 100 million passengers transit in 2015 and estimated city visits at 50 million. Of course, Atlanta has significant local tourism by car, which is minimal in Dubai’s case.
More than one-third of those overnight visitors (4.9 million) came from elsewhere in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia as Dubai’s largest source market in the region and second largest overall. Only about 100,000 more visitors came from India than Saudi Arabia and South Asia was Dubai’s fastest growing source region last year (21.7% year-over-year). Western Europe is Dubai’s second largest stronghold with the U.K. remaining the city’s third largest source market with 1.2 million visitors and 460,000 German travelers also visited.
Emirates, a Dubai-based carrier, expanded its operations across the Americas in 2015 which helped return some 8.2% year-over-year growth for visitors from the region–some of the largest overall growth. Russia and Eastern Europe were one of the only source markets with a decrease compared to 2014 (-22.5%).
2015’s visitor total is a 7.5 percent increase in arrivals year-over-year and Dubai needs to deliver at least seven percent annual growth for the next four years to make its 2020 goal of 20 million visitors.
“Through 2016 we will continue to leverage increasing airlift, open and streamlined visa policies, and a broad destination appeal that offers something for all travel segments,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, director general Dubai Corporation of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, in a statement. “Further afield, in markets across Australasia and the Americas where we offer convenient direct flight access, we have been working very closely with airline partners, the travel trade and the hotel sector to create compelling transit programs.”
The following chart depicts how many tourists came to Dubai from each region and what percentage of total visitors each region accounts for.
Source: Dubai Corporation of Tourism & Commerce Marketing
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Photo credit: An aerial view of Atlantis hotel is seen with The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. 125190 / 125190