Why Dubai is the fourth most visited city globally
Dubai has maintained its record of highest overnight visitor spend among the world's top cities as well as its status of the fourth most visited city globally. This indicates that the city is maintaining its attraction as a tourism destination and as a result, its correlated retail and hospitality sectors are also benefitting.
According to Mastercard's Global Destination Cities Index 2018, Dubai received 15.79 million overnight visitors last year. With a projected growth rate of 5.5 per cent, the emirate is expected to witness another year of steady expansion in 2018. Currently, Dubai lags Bangkok, London and Paris.
The emirate has also topped the list of global cities with the highest international overnight visitor spend for the third year in a row, with total international tourist spend of $29.7 billion in 2017. Average tourist spend per day in Dubai was around $537, the highest in the world, followed by Makkah, London, Singapore and Bangkok.
Issam Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), said new attractions and experiences have contributed to this success - from culture and arts to history and heritage as well as updates to attractions.
"The retail sector is also further enhancing its offering, presenting visitors with the opportunity to experience an ever-evolving array of shopping districts, activities and offers," he added.
According to Mastercard, Abu Dhabi has once again been named the fastest growing city for overnight visitor arrivals in the Middle East and Africa, with a compound annual growth rate of 18.21 per cent between 2009 and 2017. The UAE's capital city is also among the top 10 global cities that experienced the strongest growth in international arrivals.
Girish Nanda, general manager for UAE and Oman at Mastercard, said that with its dynamic range of tourism, leisure, lifestyle, hospitality and business offerings, the emirate continues to attract visitors from across the globe.
"Renowned for global firsts and world records, Dubai has never shied away from evolving and has transformed itself into one of the world's most prolific tourism and investment hubs," said Nanda.
In the first half of 2018, Dubai received 8.1 million overnight visitors and it is expected to surpass last year's tally of 15.79 million tourists.
Laurent A. Voivenel, SVP for operations and development for the Middle East, Africa and India at Swiss-Belhotel International, said visa on arrival for Chinese nationals, increase in air capacity by budget carriers from China and India, increased business opportunities, strategic marketing tie-ups and promotional activities by Dubai's tourism department have all resulted in this massive growth.
"As a result, we are witnessing continued growth in tourists from both existing as well as emerging markets. In the first half of 2018, we have already seen an increase of nine per cent visitors from China and three per cent from India to the destination compared to the same period last year," Voivenel said.
He attributed the increased tourist inflow into Dubai to heavy investment in tourism projects and investments in mid-market hotels which are attracting budget-conscious travellers.
Anil Dhanak, managing director for Kanz Jewels, believes the VAT refund scheme will be one of the biggest factors attracting tourists to Dubai.
"Dubai has established its name as a shopping destination of the world because of its competitive prices. The refund of VAT will ensure that this competitiveness remains and will encourage tourists to spend during their visit to Dubai," he added.
Abdul Salam K.P., group executive director, Malabar Group, also attributed the VAT refund scheme as one of the key incentives to bring tourists to the UAE.
"The VAT refund scheme for tourist purchases coming from November will allow them to splurge more in shopping. Dubai, known as the City of Gold, houses a wide variety of global collections of jewellery in gold, diamonds, platinum and precious stones and makes the city a prime jewellery shopping destination," he said.
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