Visitor figures released this month by Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) show that the United Arab Emirates city hosted 14.9 million overnight visitors in 2016, an increase of 5 percent from 2015. Since 2012, visitation to the city has grown an average of 8 percent per year -- twice the global average.
"Under the visionary leadership and support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, 2016 was another milestone marker for Dubai's travel sector, as we rallied strong, and ramped up the momentum to significantly outpace the four-year global industry average by double," said His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Tourism. "With our international overnight traffic reaching 14.9 million, Dubai has cemented its ranking as the fourth most visited city in the world, critically delivering the highest value to the domestic economy with our No. 1 ranking in terms of spend per tourist compared to any other competitor destination."
Dubai Tourism -- which has a goal of attracting 20 million annual visitors by 2020 -- credits its performance in part to meetings and events: Its Dubai Business Events program has recently secured a number of global events that will be held in Dubai in future years, including the World Congress of Cardiology 2018, Lions Clubs International ISAAME Forum 2018, and The International Federation of Health Information Management Associations International Congress 2019, just to name a few.
Pro-travel policies such as streamlined visa requirements, increased airlift, investments in new attractions, and a 5 percent increase in hotel room supply to 102,845 rooms are among the attributes helping Dubai attract meeting groups and other visitor segments, according to Dubai Tourism.
"Infrastructure, accommodation, air connectivity, access, and policy enablers continue to be the facilitating levers that ensure Dubai remains price competitive and hugely attractive for a broad range of global travelers," His Excellency Almarri continued.
Among the largest markets from which visitors are traveling to Dubai are Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Kingdom, and India, all of which had visitor totals of over 1 million. Visitors from the United States totaled 607,000.
Concluded His Excellency Almarri: "By consistently outpacing the global forecast for visitors, we remain extremely confident about the future outlook for Dubai … The solid foundations that we have put in place through diversification of markets, a broadening portfolio of attractions and facilities, and a collaborative approach between the hotel and hospitality sectors and the retail community, as well as the collective contribution of government, public, and private enterprises, will allow us to accelerate the pace of growth in 2017 and well into the future."
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