Indian tourists now the largest source market for Dubai

Dubai’s tourism agency reported 14.2 million overnight visitors last year with India as its largest source market for the first time.

About 1.6 million people visited Dubai from India last year, a 26 per cent year-on-year increase, despite currency fluctuations and a slowdown in the global economy.

Overall, tourist numbers rose 7.5 per cent compared to 2014 – a faster rate than the global average.

In May, the agency altered its method of collecting tourism data to include tourists staying at holiday rentals with family and friends, and those from cruise ships. As per the new method, 13.2 million tourists visited Dubai in 2014. Previ­ously, the data showed only ­hotel guests.

To achieve 20 million visitors in 2020, the number of tourists needs to grow at a rate of 7 to 8 per cent annually.

Through last year Dubai ­hotels had to contend with cheaper room rates than in 2014 owing to a flood of new rooms. The emirate had 78,184 rooms in November, or a 5.5 per cent increase year-on-year, according to STR Global research. The same month, the average daily rate declined by 7.1 per cent to Dh889.13 year on year as the average occupancy rate dipped by 2.9 per cent to 83 per cent.

Dubai came fourth in the ­table of most-visited cities in the world last year.

Helal Saeed Almarri, the director general at Dubai Tourism, said that last year was “volatile” for global travel.

“We have all witnessed a range of disruptive factors, ranging from slackening economic growth in Asian and European markets to currency fluctuations across the world,” he said. “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.”

This year Emirates will introduce flights to Birmingham, Taipei, Prague and Washington to its A380 network, adding hundreds of seats. It will add its second A380 flight to Los Angeles in July. The airline began its fifth daily service to Colombo yesterday. The new routes for this year announced so far are to Cebu, the Philippines, Panama City to be launched on March 31, and Yinchuan and Zhengzhou in China.

Flydubai announced 18 new destinations last year.

Through last year, Russia, CIS and eastern Europe reported a 22.5 per cent decline in tourists, along with the Australasia region, which dropped 6.3 per cent.

A total of 3.3 million tourists from the GCC visited Dubai, up 12.8 per cent over 2014, with Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar as the top source markets.

About 3 million people travelled from western Europe to Dubai, up 6.1 per cent, with the UK, Germany and northern European countries growth markets.

Approximately 2.3 million tourists visited from South Asia, a 21.7 per cent increase over the previous year. Pakistan was the second-fastest growth market after India in this region at 11 per cent with 513,000 visitors.

About 1.6 million visitors came from the Middle East and North Africa region, representing growth of 1.3 per cent

The number of visitors from Iran rose 6 per cent.

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