By Andy Sambidge
New figures show more than 11.6m tourists visited Dubai last year, up by 5.6% on 2013
Dubai's hospitality sector welcomed 11,629,578 guests in 2014, a 5.6 percent increase on 2013's total while revenues soared by nearly 10 percent, it was announced on Tuesday.
Figures released by Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) showed steady year-on-year growth and significant increases across key indicators including hotel establishment revenues and guest nights.
Dubai's hotels and hotel apartments recorded an increase in guest nights in 2014, rising by 7.4 percent from 41.58 million in 2013 to 44.66 million in 2014. The average length of stay increased from 3.78 days to 3.84 days.
Revenues for hoteliers and hotel apartment operators saw significant growth, with total revenues reaching AED23.9 billion ($6.5 billion) for 2014, up 9.8 percent from AED21.8 billion in 2013. Room revenues increased by 12 percent year-on-year and F&B and other revenues increased by 6.1 percent year-on-year.
Dubai's top ten hotel guest source markets in 2014 remained almost entirely unchanged from 2013, with only slight shifts in positioning. Saudi Arabia was once again the top source market, followed by India, UK, USA, Iran, Oman, China, Kuwait, Russia and Germany.
The March 2014 UAE federal ruling that exempted citizens of 13 European member states from requiring a pre-entry visa to the UAE - joining the other 15 European member states for which the exemption already applied - contributed to increases in hotel guest numbers from European countries.
China moved from 10th position to seventh, experiencing 24.9 percent growth in the last 12 months with 344,329 hotel guests compared to 275,675 in 2013.
India and the UK also showed significant increases in the number of hotel guests, rising 12.2 percent and 11.3 percent respectively.
Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of DTCM, said: "The 2014 figures demonstrate healthy year-on-year growth for hotel establishment guest numbers with significant increases from Asia, Africa and Western Europe. The strong growth in hotel guests from China is hugely positive and reflects our targeted work in this market."
He added: "The 5.6 percent increase in the number of hotel guests occurred despite the decrease in the number of Russian visitors - a result of the current geopolitical situation and the decrease in the value of the Ruble."
Almarri said the growth in revenue was achieved amid a 9.2 percent increase in available rooms in Dubai during the year. At the start of 2014, the emirate's portfolio consisted of 84,534 rooms across 611 properties but by the end of the year this had increased to 92,333 rooms across 657 properties.