Dubai received 14.36 million international overnight visitors in 2022, growing 97 per cent YoY from the 7.28 million tourist arrivals in 2021, according to the latest data published by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET). The growth, which enabled the emirate to surpass global and regional tourism recovery levels, contributes to the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to consolidate Dubai’s status as one of the world’s top three cities for travel and business.
His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai said, “Dubai’s ability to rapidly accelerate tourism growth, which has marked it out as a clear frontrunner in the international industry, demonstrates the far-reaching vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to transform the emirate into an important global player in shaping the future of vital sectors. The remarkable rise in international visitation in 2022 supports the ambitious goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to double the size of the emirate’s economy by 2033. The tourism and travel sector contributes significantly to the leadership’s aim of making the emirate a model for excellence in the global economy.
“The exceptional growth in the inflow of visitors reflects Dubai’s continued rise as one of the world’s most connected cities and its determination to lead the world in hospitality infrastructure and service levels. The high growth shows the world that we never rest on our achievements and constantly work to raise our benchmarks. I am confident that Dubai will be an even greater catalyst for the growth of global tourism and travel connectivity in the years ahead.”
By closing in on its pre-pandemic visitation of 16.73 million in 2019, Dubai’s 2022 tourism performance further validated its ranking as the No.1 global destination in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2023 for the second successive year, only the second city in history to achieve the feat. The latest data from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) shows that global tourist travel in 2022 was 37 per cent lower than 2019. The Middle East saw the strongest relative increase, with arrivals climbing to 83 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers. Dubai exceeded both global and regional barometers of recovery with visitors to the city in 2022 reaching 86 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
His Excellency, Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, said, “Aligned with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the world’s most visited and re-visited destination, the performance of our industry in 2022 shows the extraordinary progress made by the city over the past two years. While the global economy remains in a state of flux, Dubai has emerged as a clear leader in the tourism industry. The robust performance is a testament to Dubai’s growing role at the vanguard of global tourism recovery. The positive momentum also shows that tourism remains a significant contributor to the city’s economic growth and sustainable development, further driving the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to reinforce Dubai’s status as one of world’s top three cities for tourism and business.
“The effectiveness of our strategies and initiatives gives us the confidence to tap new growth opportunities in the global travel and business sectors over the next few decades. As the fastest growing city in the Middle East, Dubai’s continuous growth has been made possible by the unwavering support of our stakeholders and partners and a raft of strategic investments and federal policy reforms that have led to a steady flow of global entrepreneurs, talent, investors, and business and leisure travellers. The industry-wide success has also encouraged us to redouble our efforts to provide more opportunities for Emirati talent to contribute to the growth of Dubai’s tourism sector, aligned with our cutting-edge industry nationalisation programme to build the next generation of tourism professionals. We will continue to accelerate momentum throughout 2023 and beyond by focusing on all the key elements that have placed Dubai at the forefront of the world’s leading travel destinations – a diversified approach to markets, an evolving multifaceted destination proposition, continuous collaboration with our partners, all of which have enabled us to deliver exceptional value to visitors from around the world,” HE Helal Almarri added.
Dubai’s international markets maintain momentum
The strong performance in 2022 features some noteworthy spikes in Dubai’s traditional key markets and strong growth across emerging markets. Dubai remained a first-choice safe travel destination for visitors from the city’s stronghold markets.
From a regional perspective, Western Europe and GCC regions each accounted for a 21 per cent share of arrivals. The GCC region in particular saw an exponential increase in their share of arrivals from 13 per cent in 2021 to 21 per cent last year. South Asia contributed 17 per cent of total volumes while the MENA region contributed 12 per cent, further reinforcing Dubai’s continued appeal to travellers from proximity markets. The Americas accounted for seven per cent of arrivals while the North Asia and South East Asia region and Africa each contributed five per cent and Australasia accounted for two per cent.
His Excellency, Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said, “As Dubai continues to grow exponentially in line with the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 launched by our visionary leadership to make Dubai one of the world’s top three cities for tourism and business, it remains committed to moving to the next level with new and unique world-class infrastructure, experiences and attractions. The sheer diversity of the destination proposition and Dubai’s growing profile as a safe, open and accessible destination saw the city being chosen as the No.1 global destination for the second year in a row in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2023. Our partners played a pivotal role in achieving the No.1 ranking with their contributions to both Dubai’s tourism growth and the sector’s global rebound, as well as their active participation in all our global campaigns and marketing activities that have driven consideration for Dubai as the destination of choice for global travellers. The exceptional support of our public and private sector stakeholders and partners will be instrumental in raising our ability to showcase our unmatched offering designed to meet the diverse preferences and budgets of international travellers, as we gear up to welcome more visitors to Dubai in 2023.”
Hospitality sector achieves significant growth
Dubai’s hotel sector, which continues to be integral to the emirate’s destination promise and the overall growth of the tourism industry, continued to perform strongly across all hospitality metrics.
Average occupancy for the hotel sector in 2022 stood at 73 per cent, one of the highest in the world, rising from 67 per cent in 2021. The figure is just short of the 75 per cent occupancy in the pre-pandemic period of 2019. The high occupancy is particularly noteworthy as it was achieved despite a 16 per cent increase in room supply in 2022 compared to 2019. Dubai’s hotel inventory at the end of December 2022 comprised of 146,496 rooms at 804 hotel establishments, compared to 126,120 rooms available at the end of December 2019 across 741 establishments. The total number of hotels in 2022 marked a six per cent growth over 2021, with 755 hotel establishments offering 137,950 rooms, figures that highlight the continued strong investor confidence in Dubai’s tourism sector.
The hotel sector outperformed pre-pandemic levels across all other key measurements – Occupied Room Nights, Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR). Occupied room nights reached a record high of 37.43 million room nights in 2022, registering a 19 per cent increase vs. 2021 (31.47 million) and a 17 per cent increase over the pre-pandemic period of 2019, which yielded 32.11 million occupied room nights.
The ADR of AED536 in 2022 surpassed the ADRs for both 2021 (AED451) and 2019 (AED415), with 19 per cent and 29 per cent increases respectively. The hotel sector’s robust performance is also evident in its RevPAR growth – an increase of 30 per cent compared to 2021 (AED391 v AED301) and an increase of 25 per cent over the pre-pandemic period of 2019 (RevPAR of AED312).