Dubai Tourism Industry Outlook - 2019

 Dubai Tourism – A Cornerstone for Diversified Economic Growth

With an ever-expanding infrastructure in Dubai, tourism sector has become one of the fastest-growing sectors in the Emirate with approximate contribution of 6-8 per cent to Dubai’s GDP and an annual growth rate of 2.2 per cent. According to DTCM (Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing), Dubai welcomed 8.36 million international visitors to the emirate in the first half of 2019 with a 3 per cent growth compared to the same period for 2018.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General – Dubai Tourism has expressed that tourism is among the cornerstones of Dubai’s economic growth and aggressive measures are being adapted to promote the Emirate as the most visited and most preferred city.

Dubai Tourism – Top 5 Countries & Tourists

The top five tourists that visited Dubai were from India (1st), Saudi Arabia (2nd), United Kingdom – UK (3rd), China (4th) and Oman (5th). Tourist from India accounted for more than 1 million while 755,000 from Saudi Arabia which saw an increase of 2 per cent compared to the previous year. It was also identified that the travellers during Eid break increased by 5 per cent from 2018. The visitors from Saudi were primarily families and millennials.

The third most visited tourists were from the UK, which was around 586,000. The steady flow of travellers from the UK, despite the devaluation of British Pounds and political/economic turbulences as a result of Brexit indicates a positive sign for future tourism to Dubai from the UK. Likewise, the Chinese tourists surpassed 501,000 marks and increased by 11 per cent compared to 2018 while Oman with more than 499,000 tourists closely followed by China. This was a 28 per cent increase in tourist inflow to Dubai from Oman compared to the previous year. Other tourists were from Germany, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Dubai – 4th Most Visited City Globally

For the fifth year running, Dubai continues to maintain the fourth position for the most visited cities in the world behind Paris (3rd), London (2nd) and Bangkok (1st). In 2018, Dubai hosted nearly 16 million visitors and it is expected to grow by 2 per cent in 2019. The EXPO 2020 event will also play a considerable role in boosting tourist inflow in Dubai.

Medical Tourism on Rise – Dubai

Dubai’s status as a medical tourism destination is on the rise as well. According to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), the Emirate attracted 337,000 international medical tourists by the end of 2018 and the number is expected to reach 500,000 by 2021. More than one-third of the international medical tourists that visited Dubai were from Gulf and Middle Eastern countries. Dentistry, orthopaedics and dermatological treatments were most popular along with wellness, aesthetics and fertility.

Dubai Tourism – Hotel Occupancy

The hotel sector was also benefited from the increase in tourist inflow to Dubai. During the first half of 2019, the hotel occupancy rate was estimated to be 76 per cent which was around 15.7 million for the mentioned period. This was among the highest occupancy rates recorded in the world with an increase of 5 per cent compared to the previous year.

Investment Opportunities in Dubai Tourism

With ambitious plans and several initiatives taken by the government, Dubai is expected to see an increasing tourist inflow. The tourism sector will remain one of the key avenues for investment amongst international and regional investors.

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Author: Waqas Siddiqui
As a research consultant, I am passionate about supporting businesses in successfully expanding in the UAE and Gulf region. I can be reached at for research inquiries.