Tourists arriving in Dubai surged by 12 percent in the first two months of 2017, nearly four times the growth seen in the same period last year, it was announced on Wednesday.
Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) said in a statement that the emirate welcomed just over three million visitors during January and February.
It said China and Russia in particular drove the volumes and set the stage for a strong first quarter result. The period witnessed a 60 percent growth in overnight tourists from China with January alone peaking at 102 percent, while attracting a total of 157,000 Chinese visitors across just the first two months.
Russian visitors jumped 84 percent over the same period last year with February delivering 140 percent volume increase to bring a total of 65,000 travellers in the first two months.
Both countries moved up in their rankings as key source markets for inbound tourism to Dubai with China entering the top 4 for the first time and Russia moving to just outside the top 10, up 4 places from 15.
Last month, Dubai Tourism said that the emirate attracted 14.9 million overnight visitors in 2016, up 5 percent on the previous year.
Officials said that they are firmly on track to meet the target of attracting 20 million annual tourists by 2020.
Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Tourism, said: “We are delighted to see visitor numbers make a strong start in 2017. We work closely with the government on initiatives to drive increased visitation, and the decision by the leadership of the UAE to offer visas-on-arrival to our Chinese and Russian guests has already proven an astute one, as we have seen an almost instant positive effect from both countries.
"Dubai Tourism has invested significant efforts in marketing Dubai as an appealing destination for visitors from China and Russia, and we are encouraged to see such promising results."
Steps taken to encourage more Chinese visitors include increasing the number of Mandarin-speaking customer service representatives for tourism related activities, widening acceptance of Chinese payment systems, allocating culturally trained staff in hotels, malls and attractions dedicated to inbound Chinese groups, providing additional food and beverage outlets catering to their tastes, and making Mandarin-language maps available at attractions and shopping malls throughout the city.
Almarri said the Russian market has retained its trajectory of recovery that started last year, following a prolonged period of economic instability that resulted in a marked drop in Russian outbound travel.
He added: “While the strong performance in January and February is encouraging and to be applauded, it is important to stress that we still have much to do as we face a dynamic global environment influenced by various macro-economic and geopolitical challenges."
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