Dubai climbs to becoming the most visited global destination.
Dubai welcomed 8.36 million international overnight visitors in the first six months (January-June) of 2019, posting a positive three per cent in tourism volume growth compared to the same period last year, according to the latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism). The new figures reinforce the continued strength of Dubai’s tourism sector as a key driver of economic diversification and a reliable catalyst for GDP acceleration through 2020. The largest traffic generators as well as newer high-potential segments have set a strong preparatory pace to fuel Dubai’s climb to becoming the most visited global destination.
Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai Tourism, commented: “Tourism is one of the cornerstones of Dubai’s diversified economic growth, and we measure success based on our ability to aggressively advance towards our goal to be the number one most visited and most preferred city as envisioned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The consequent rise in value creation opportunities, and more inclusive sector participation are core priorities, as we equally strive to sustainably grow GDP contribution. Our first half results are a particularly encouraging reflection of our progress towards this ambition and underline the effectiveness of our diversified market outreach with holistic ‘awareness to booking’ cycle content amplification and audience delivery, through a deeply networked ecosystem of global partners, industry stakeholders and government enablers.”
The sustained effectiveness of the Department’s market-specific strategies and customised annual programming are evidenced in the tangible visitation outcomes delivered across the traditional strongholds, propelled by targeted campaigns highlighting Dubai’s propositions, and tapping into the city’s dynamic appeal and growing connectivity across continents.
India once again led the pack, drawing the highest half year volumes with 997,000 visitors - particularly noteworthy given the severe air traffic and seat capacity challenges due to geopolitical volatilities. Dubai continued to drive booking interest from Indians on a mass scale largely due to high-impact delivery of segment and season-specific campaigns across the most accessible Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities. From focused ‘family’ or ‘couple’ oriented promotions to the Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan-led global #BeMyGuest campaign, the Department’s investments yielded strong returns, with the latter alone surpassing all records, logging 160 million views in a short few weeks. Additionally, at an audience penetration level, travel share of Indian families with children rose by a substantial 10 percentage points from 24 to 34 per cent, directly reflecting higher GDP impact due to party size and spend potential.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) delivered 755,000 visitors at two per cent year-on-year growth over six months with a notable 4.9 per cent increase over the Eid break alone - signifying continued stability in Dubai’s attractiveness for Saudi families and millennials. With the GCC as a whole, and KSA (as its lead contributor), being key priorities on Dubai Tourism’s strategic agenda, investments in deepening alliances with the country’s travel ecosystem continued to increase in H1 2019, reflecting the value of such partnerships - particularly via consolidated marketing-promotions-sales programmes. In addition to the planned calendar of specialised fam trips for KSA’s top travel agents and tour operators, showcasing the latest and most relevant Dubai offering to help them develop tailor-made itineraries for their audiences, Dubai Tourism entered into a long-term association with the Seera Group, one of the region’s leading providers of travel services in the Middle East and North Africa.
Staying firmly within Dubai’s top three traffic drivers, the UK delivered 586,000 travellers beating all odds against a significantly devalued British Pound (vs. US Dollar), amidst growing political and economic turbulences surrounding Brexit. Contrary to general dampening in consumer sentiment, Dubai retained high demand from couples - constituting 56 per cent of share - and families accounting for 20 per cent - collectively up three percentage points from H1 2018. As the two focus segments for Dubai Tourism’s strategy in the UK, the results validate the success of its ‘always on’ approach leveraging bespoke and seasonal campaigns; advocacy-based content partnerships and localised influencer marketing; and audience-specific trade alliances. One of H1 2019’s highlights included a Red Bull signature ‘Only in Dubai’ collaboration featuring the UK’s very own BMX star Kriss Kyle in action across Dubai’s iconic landmarks - garnering five million views within a week.
With over 501,000 Chinese visitors to Dubai from January to June 2019, the stellar 11 per cent year-on-year growth from inarguably the world’s most aggressively sought-after consumers is testament to Dubai Tourism’s successful strategies to maintain high conversion appeal for China’s outbound market.