Skift Take

Dubai is skyrocketing in popularity as a destination for tours and activities and operators are quickly hopping on the trend.

Two online tour marketplaces say Dubai is far surpassing its pre-pandemic popularity. The city now ranks alongside Paris and Rome as a tourism hotspot.

One marketplace, GetYourGuide, said that Dubai has ranked fourth after Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam in tickets sold among American and German travelers so far in 2024. A top attraction, the Burj Khalifa, is the fifth-most booked activity for those travelers. 

Viator, TripAdvisor’s online marketplace, has around 6,500 tours in Dubai. It said it has seen triple the bookings compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

“Demand for Dubai has grown quickly as the rebound in international travel continues,” said Laurel Greatrix, vice president of brand and communications at Viator. “While the bounce in Europe came first, Dubai is now seeing comparable growth to popular destinations like Rome, Paris, and Amsterdam – with bookings to Dubai tripling versus 2019.”

Greatrix added that Dubai as a source market is also growing. “We’ve seen a sharp increase in demand this year, with bookings out of the region doubling year-over-year,” she said.

The Dubai Government also saw an 11% increase in the number of overnight tourists in early 2024. This builds off the city’s record growth in 2023, when it welcomed 17.15 million international overnight visitors.

Why the spike?

The UAE is investing heavily in tourism, from building resort islands to hosting some of the world’s biggest sports tournaments.

Dubai is also leaning into its status as a “stopover” city, according to GetYourGuide. “Some attractions already have extended hours or explore 24/7 opening hours to enable visits from guests with night layovers,” said Julia Randow, GetYourGuide’s director of sales for the Middle East and North Africa..

Beyond its attractions and events, Dubai is a comfortable destination for Western travelers, according to tour operator smarTours.

“Our Deluxe Dubai & Abu Dhabi tour appeals to many first-time international travelers,” said Carolyn Shaul, director of tour product and development at smarTours. “The UAE is very Westernized in terms of comfort and infrastructure.”

A budding industry trend

Other companies are making moves to capitalize on the rising popularity in Dubai and the Middle East.

On May 1, Holibob, an experiences booking provider announced a new partnership with a regional online travel agency, Travelwings.

Intrepid Travel is also expanding in the region. It opened its inaugural office in Jordan on May 8 and announced women led tours in Saudi Arabia in April. Group said Wednesday it’s expanding its presence in the Middle East.

“Establishing our office in Dubai is a critical step in our regional strategy,” said Siddharth Sudhakar, general manager for the Middle East and Africa at


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Tags: dubai, getyourguide, intrepid, middle east, middle east report, online travel, online travel newsletter, sports tourism, tour operators, Travel Experiences, Travel Trends, tui, viator

Photo credit: GetYourGuide's speedboat tour operating from Dubai's marina. The company is looking at rolling out new products as popularity grows. GetYourGuide

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