Travelbiz E-Zine
13
February
2024

Dubai welcomes a record 17.15 million international tourists in 2023

Dubai’s 19.4% YoY increase in 2023 saw international visitation numbers exceed pre-pandemic levels.

New accommodation options enhance Dubai’s luxury hotel portfolio.

The city was ranked as the No.1 global destination for a third successive year in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2024.

Dubai welcomed more tourists than ever before in 2023, attracting 17.15 million international overnight visitors over the course of the year, according to the latest data published by Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET). Representing a 19.4% YoY growth over the 14.36 million tourist arrivals in 2022, last year’s figure also exceeded the previous record of 16.73 million visitors registered in 2019.

Celebrating a record-breaking 2023, Dubai’s tourism industry performance further bolstered its ranking as the No.1 global destination for an unprecedented third successive year in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2024, the first city to achieve this unique accolade. The repeated acknowledgement of Dubai as the world’s favourite destination is a testament to the city’s vibrant and diverse offerings – with an eclectic mix of luxury and affordable hotels and restaurants, as well as a range of attractions and cultural sites which pay homage to the heritage of the emirate. Catering to travellers of all budgets and preferences, Dubai’s unique proposition and a year-round calendar of business, leisure and sporting events continues to attract visitors from around the world.

Key regions maintain momentum 

The strong tourism performance in 2023 saw Dubai maintain its position as a first-choice travel destination for visitors, both from key traditional and emerging markets. From a regional perspective, the GCC and MENA delivered a combined 28% of the share, demonstrating Dubai’s allure as a trusted and favoured destination for visitors from neighbouring markets. Western Europe and South Asia accounted for 19% and 18% of arrivals respectively, while CIS/Eastern Europe recorded a 13% share. The North Asia and South-East Asia region accounted for 9% of arrivals, the America’s contributed 7%, Africa 4% and Australasia 2%.

 New additions to Dubai’s luxury hotel portfolio

Dubai’s luxury hotel landscape continues to expand rapidly. Atlantis The Royal, ranked No.44 on the World’s 50 Best Hotels list, debuted in February 2023, immediately enhancing the city’s opulent offerings. Other stand-out additions include Banyan Tree Dubai which offers an award-winning spa and a variety of al fresco dining experiences. Similarly, the Vida Creek Beach Hotel boasts modern architecture overlooking Dubai Creek Harbour and provides guests with exclusive beachfront experiences. Anticipated openings set to enhance Dubai’s hotel scene for 2024 include the affordable and edgy Mama Shelter Dubai, designed for millennials and ideal for solo travellers; SIRO One Za’abeel, focused on holistic fitness, recovery and well-being; Jumeirah Marsa Al Arab, signifying a new era in luxury hospitality for the Dubai-born brand; and The Lana, a Dorchester Collection hotel that promises a captivating rooftop scene that transitions from daytime pool to lively late-night lounge bar.

Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “The extensive range of offerings and Dubai’s reputation as a secure and accessible destination have been consistently recognised across multiple global indices, culminating in the city being crowned the No.1 global destination for a third year in a row in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2024. The sustained success will further enhance visitors’ enduring trust, confidence and affinity for Dubai, as it accelerates towards the goal of becoming the best city to visit, live and work in. We are strategically harnessing the significant momentum generated during a highly successful 2023 to drive growth across all segments of tourism and enhance capacity to showcase our unparalleled offerings tailored to cater to the diverse preferences and budgets of international travellers”.

Global liveability hub

In addition to securing the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, Dubai also garnered recognition across various fronts, offering residents and visitors a blend of opportunities and world-class amenities in a vibrant, safe and dynamic setting.

Regarded as one of the safest cities in the world, Dubai was ranked at No.5 on the Safety Index by City 2024 report by cost-of-living database Numbeo. In a report by financial services provider Remitly, Dubai was also hailed as the No.1 city in the world to relocate to in 2023, showcasing its allure as a preferred destination for individuals seeking new opportunities and a high quality of life. Furthermore, property consultancy Savills identified Dubai as the best city in the world for remote workers, emphasising its conducive environment for professionals embracing the virtual working lifestyle.

Dubai’s appeal as a thriving global hub was further highlighted by Euromonitor International’s Top 100 City Destinations Index 2023, which named Dubai the world’s No.2 city destination. Dubai’s recognition as one of the top 10 cities in the Global Power City Index, as reported by the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies in Japan, further reinforced its stature as a key player on the global stage.

Kicking off global partnerships and campaigns 

As part of its year-round drive to showcase Dubai to the world, DET entered into a landmark collaboration with Spanish football giants Real Madrid Club de Fútbol. The multi-year agreement has brought together two iconic brands and builds on Real Madrid’s longtime partnership with Dubai’s flagship airline, Emirates, while Dubai Parks™ and Resorts has, at the same time, announced its partnership with Real Madrid C.F. to be home to the first Real Madrid-themed park, Real Madrid World.

Keeping with the emirate’s “nothing is impossible” spirit, Dubai hosted another record-breaking stunt with Red Bull Air Race Champion Luke Czepiela landing his plane on the helipad of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, encouraging visitors and residents to achieve new heights and push boundaries. Another feat in 2023 saw American Brian Grubb performing a world-first wakeskate and base jump at the Address Beach Resort.

Dubai has also established a strong and ongoing partnership with Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer that goes beyond a typical concert. “Hans Zimmer Live” marked his first Middle East performance at Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena during the region’s longest running Dubai Shopping Festival, kicking off a deep exploration into the city’s culture. This collaboration was not just a one-time show. Zimmer has become a vocal supporter of Dubai, creating “Sounds of Dubai“, a unique musical piece that captures the city’s vibe.

International events destination 

Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) positions Dubai as an international entertainment hub, and in 2023, the city hosted an array of year-round events spearheaded by the iconic Dubai Shopping Festival. DFRE’s annual Retail Calendar encompasses everything from arts and books, food and sports, music and concerts, heritage and culture through to shopping and fashion, as well as retail promotions offering life-changing prizes to lucky residents and visitors.

The region’s leading destination for business events, Dubai attracts a wide range of business travellers through its calendar of annual exhibitions and trade shows that are among the largest in the world. Major business and leisure events held in 2023 included Gulfood (134,000 visitors and 5,000 exhibitors), Gitex Global Dubai (170,000 visitors and 6,000 exhibitors), the International Boat Show (30,000 visitors) and Arabian Travel Market (40,000 visitors). Dubai Business Events, part of DET and the city’s official convention bureau, ensured continued growth in this space by working with stakeholders to win a record 349 bids to host international conferences, congresses, meetings and incentive travel programmes over the coming years.

Culinary innovation and accolades

With a vibrant and thriving gastronomy scene, Dubai is a modern culinary capital with 13,000 restaurants and cafes offering a wide variety of cuisines and experiences. Following its launch in 2022, the second edition of the MICHELIN Guide Dubai was released in 2023, with three new one-star restaurants and one new two-starred included. In total, the 2023 guide featured 90 restaurants, up from 69, including three that were awarded two stars, 11 with one star, three with a Green Star, 17 Bib Gourmands and 59 Michelin-selected restaurants. Two Dubai homegrown restaurants were also included in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List for 2023. Trèsind Studio was ranked at No.11, Orfali Bros Bistro was No.46 while Ossiano was part of the extended list, at No.87.

Delivering on sustainability goals

Dubai’s sustainability efforts align with global objectives, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030. The ongoing Dubai Sustainable Tourism Stamp (DST) drive initiated by DET provides support for the hospitality industry through several programmes. In July, DET launched the Dubai Sustainable Tourism Stamp, a new initiative, as part of DST, that recently recognised 70 hotels with the highest level of adherence to DET’s 19 ‘Sustainability Requirements’. Developed in collaboration with Dubai’s hospitality sector, the stamp is designed to accelerate efforts towards empowering the tourism sector to achieve its sustainability goals and serve as a validation of the hotel’s dedication to sustainable practices.

Global cruise and yacht tourism destination

Cruising and yachting are key pillars of Dubai’s tourism industry. Reinforcing its standing as a premier global cruise destination, Dubai anticipates up to 150 cruise ships for the 2023-2024 winter season, which launched with the arrival of the luxury liner Mein Schiff 2 in October. Visitation by passengers is largely concentrated around the city’s world-class cruise hubs, such as Mina Rashid, which offers easy access to the historic Dubai Creek, and Dubai Harbour, located next to Dubai Marina and the iconic Palm Jumeirah. With 15 marinas, more than 3,600 berths and support facilities for pleasure crafts, superyachts and gigayachts, Dubai has also become a magnet for global yacht tourism. The winter season from October to April attracts more and more yachts annually and the emirate’s geographical location provides easy access to some of the most scenic yachting destinations in the region, as well as the UAE’s stunning coastline.

To read the latest research, insights and official reports from across Dubai’s tourism industry, please visit: www.dubaitourism.gov.ae/en/research-and-insights.

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