By Andy Sambidge
More than 5.5 million tourists visit Dubai in the first half of 2013, an increase of 11.1%
More than 5.5 million tourists visited Dubai in the first half of 2013, representing an 11.1 percent year-on-year increase.
The first half visitor number results, released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) on Wednesday, show increases across all key indicators, including hotel establishment guests, hotel and hotel apartment revenues, room occupancy and average length of stay.
Revenues for hoteliers and hotel apartment operators saw significant growth – with total first half revenues reaching AED11.62bn ($3.18bn) up by 18.6 percent.
The occupancy rate in the city also saw steady growth during the first half of the year.
Hotel room occupancy averaged 84.6 percent over the six month period, up 2.8 percent from 81.8 percent in the first half of 2012, while the occupancy rate for hotel apartments was 85.8 percent, up 6.5 percent from 79.3 percent in H1 2012.
This increase in occupancy gains greater significance when viewed against a backdrop of the increased availability of hotel rooms – 16 new hotel establishments have opened since June 2012, bringing the number of establishments to 603 and adding 5,484 rooms to the Emirate’s offer, which now totals 81,492.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai earlier this year announced a strategy to double annual visitor numbers to 20 million in 2020.
Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of DTCM, said: “The figures for the first half of 2013 are extremely encouraging and indicate that we are on the way to achieving our Tourism Vision for 2020.
"Our strategy is to position Dubai as a foremost destination for both leisure and business travellers by continuously evolving our broad and diverse tourism offering, and attracting visitors from a range of source markets, including targeting a new generation of first-time travellers from emerging markets.
"The increase in visitors from each of our key source markets is particularly encouraging, with a number of these markets showing particularly strong growth, including the GCC countries, China, India, Australia and many countries in Europe.”
Guest numbers across all hotel establishments in the first half of the year reached 5,583,379, an 11.1 percent increase on the 5,027,223 in the first half of 2012.
Dubai’s top 10 tourism source markets remained the same as those for the first half of 2012, with Saudi Arabia, India, UK, USA, Russia, Germany, Kuwait, Oman, China and Iran topping the list.
Despite already being Dubai’s primary source market, Saudi Arabia also experienced the most growth, with visitor numbers swelling by 31.6 percent to 710,472.
Australia (ranked 13th) also recorded a strong rise in visitor numbers, with growth rates of 24.3 percent reflecting the increased flight volume resulting from the partnership between Emirates Airline and Qantas, formalised in April.
Guests from the world’s two most populous nations, China (ranked 9th) and India (ranked 2nd), continued to show strong increases, with visitors from both markets up by 15.8 percent.
Almarri added: “Saudi Arabia, China and India are markets which DTCM has put significant focus on, as we believe they provide substantial opportunities for growth. DTCM has conducted a number of roadshows, participated in a range of events and operated specific campaigns in these markets to ensure that Dubai is positioned as a destination of choice.
"With regards to Australia, the partnership between Emirates and Qantas has clearly had a highly positive impact and DTCM has been working closely with both airlines to maximise the opportunities the partnership provides to increase the amount of visitors from both Australia and the other markets which the partnership opens up.”
In the first six months of the year, the average length of stay across hotels and hotel apartments was 3.89 days – a rise on the average 3.82 day stay in H1 2012.
Almarri said: “The growth recorded in the first half of the year is on target for our medium-term plans, and most importantly, it is sustainable.
"We’re seeing continued growth in the quantity and breadth of hotels and hotel apartments designed to meet the increased demand from travellers; and the recently introduced changes to the hotel classification system provide greater clarity for both operators and tourists.”
Total guest nights also recorded rises, up 13.1 percent to 21,715,848 from 19,209,037 – or more than 2.5m additional guest nights from January to June 2013 when compared to the first six months of 2012.