A view of Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure and building in the world in the city centre of the Gulf emirate of Dubai. AFP
Dubai welcomed a record 16.73 million tourists in 2019, an improvement over the previous two years driven by soaring Chinese, Russian and Omani visitor numbers.
The number of international visitors grew by 5.1 percent last year but is still short of its 2020 target of 20 million tourists.
"While the global economy remains in a state of flux, we can clearly see an exciting opportunity to further grow Dubai's dominance in the tourism industry in 2020," said Dubai Tourism chief Saeed al-Marri, according to the Dubai Media Office.
By country, Indian tourists topped arrivals with nearly two million visiting Dubai, a slight drop from 2018.
They were followed by 1.6 million Saudi visitors to the city-state, one of seven sheikhdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates.
Like last year, Britons came in third with 1.2 million tourists. Visitors from Oman increased 24 percent to over one million, putting the neighboring country in fourth place.
Chinese tourists rose by 15.5 percent to 989,000 and Russian visitors increased by 7.4 percent to 728,000.
Earlier this month, the UAE introduced a multiple-entry visa scheme valid for five years for all nationalities.
Dubai has the most diversified economy in the region and forecasts record spending this year, with its 2020 budget increasing 17 percent to $18.1 million as it seeks to boost its economy.
The emirate has high hopes that the six-month global trade fair Expo 2020 starting in October will revive its fortunes.
But it still foresees a deficit for the fourth year in a row of $700 million.
The government is hoping Expo will attract 25 million visits, most of them from abroad, and is projecting a 25 percent increase in revenues to $17.4 billion.
Dubai is the only government in the Gulf not dependent on hydrocarbon revenues, and projects around 94 percent of income to come from non-oil sources.
The desert city has large numbers of opulent shopping malls, luxury resorts and even an indoor ski slope.
National Day saw the highest daily footfall - 140,000 - shattering all previous Global Village records.
Dubai is placed among the 10 World’s Best Cities for 2020 in a ranking by North America-based tourism, city and real estate advisors Resonance Consultancy.
Dubai will host 40 global travellers for a ‘one-of-a-kind’ summer extravaganza as part of #BeMyGuest campaign by Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism). The multi-award-winning programme, featured an exclusive social gamification component, inviting Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan, to help him solve clues around the city in a mysterious, 6-part mini-series. With the grand finale of the contest concluding the series at the end of April, 20 winners were awarded the opportunity to experience many iconic attractions, remarkable entertainment and exceptional ‘Only in Dubai’ experiences’ along with a companion this summer for free.
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