Dubai welcomed a record 8.10 million international overnight tourists during the first six months of 2018, according to figures released on Wednesday.
Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) said the emirate’s tourism sector was now worth AED109 billion ($29.6 billion) a year as at the end of 2017.
Top source markets continued to witness stable year-on-year performances in the first half of 2018, with India, Saudi Arabia and the UK retaining their top three positions when compared to the same period last year, it said in a statement.
India again brought in the highest number of international guests, once again crossing the 1 million mark over a six-month period, up by three percent year-on-year.
China ended the first half of 2018 in fourth place, continuing its upward trajectory by nine percent to deliver 453,000 tourists while Russia topped the growth charts with a 74 percent increase over H1 2017, delivering 405,000 visitors.
Both markets continued to benefit from added ease of travel access following the introduction of visa-on-arrival facilities for Chinese and Russian citizens in late 2016 and early 2017 respectively.
Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Tourism, said: “The first six months of 2018 have both generated and sustained a steady performance, supporting strong growth across our global feeder markets. Attracting 8.10 million visitors during the first half of 2018 stands us in good stead as we accelerate momentum towards our visionary aspiration of becoming the most visited city in the world.”
He added that future visa regulation changes will offer an added benefit for travellers to the UAE over summer, exempting dependents aged 18 years or below from visa fees – a move that is expected to boost tourist numbers even further.
"Looking ahead to the second half of 2018, and additional areas of growth for the tourism sector, the recent move to implement a value added tax (VAT) refund mechanism for tourists will also ensure the industry’s competitiveness globally and drive further growth in its GDP contribution to Dubai,” said Almarri.
Spread across a total of 700 establishments, Dubai’s hotel room inventory stood at 111,317 at the end of June, up seven percent compared to the same time last year.
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