Tourism Sector Is A Vital Pillar Of Dubai’s Economy: Hamdan Bin Mohammed

Tourism Sector Is A Vital Pillar Of Dubai’s Economy: Hamdan Bin Mohammed

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, attended Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism’s City Briefing, held on Thursday.

Sheikh Hamdan said the tourism sector is a vital pillar of Dubai’s economy and is playing a key role in achieving the goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33.

Reiterating Dubai’s commitment to enhancing its status as a preferred global tourist destination in partnership with major international industry players, he said, “Dubai’s robust partnerships with leading travel and hospitality companies are key to fostering the growth of this crucial sector, both on a local and global scale. Hospitality is an integral part of the Emirati cultural fabric, a value deeply embedded in our ethos. Dubai remains dedicated to enhancing the infrastructure and services and making the strategic investments needed to provide an exceptional experience for visitors from across the world.”

The bi-annual City Briefing for stakeholders and partners, organised by the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), further highlighted Dubai’s transformative role in championing the ongoing evolution of global tourism, in line with the city’s ambitious Dubai Economic Agenda D33, which seeks to consolidate Dubai’s position as one of the top three global cities for business and leisure.

Participants at this event, presided over by Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of DET, were also briefed on the D33 Agenda, the 10-year roadmap for Dubai’s development that was launched at the beginning of 2023 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

The ‘City Briefing’ event, which deep dives into the latest destination developments and discusses the future outlook for the tourism industry, was attended by over 1200 industry executives and professionals. The new DET data released during ‘City Briefing’ demonstrates an overwhelmingly positive industry performance. With tourism sector growth in 2023 outperforming pre-pandemic results across travel and hospitality, Dubai welcomed a record 13.9 million visitors from January to October 2023 compared to 13.5 million during the corresponding period in 2019.

Key regions contributing to Dubai’s tourism success
In the first 10 months of the year, the GCC and MENA regions accounted for 29% of international inbound tourism to Dubai, with Western Europe contributing 19%, and visitors from South Asia totaling 18%. Eastern Europe, Russia and CIS contributed a combined 13% share of total visitation, a notable increase from the 8% achieved over the same period in 2019. North Asia and Southeast Asia contributed a further 8%, up from 4% in 2022.

Dubai maintains high hotel occupancy of 76%
Average hotel occupancy between January to October this year has reached an impressive 76%, up from 74% in the same period in 2019. The achievement is particularly notable given Dubai has also recorded 13% and 22% increases in hotel establishment and room capacity respectively, since 2019.

According to the latest STR Global Hotel Monitoring Update, Dubai ranked 4th globally in occupancy, after other global destinations New York and London and ranking just 0.01% behind third-placed Paris. At the end of October 2023, Dubai’s hotel sector had grown to 149,076 rooms in 818 hotel establishments, compared to 122,185 rooms in 724 hotel establishments at the same stage in October 2019.

Dubai’s performance reveals that searches and bookings for Dubai in Q3 2023 surpassed pre-pandemic levels, which further evidences the city’s global appeal, as well as the range of choices available for visitors planning a trip to Dubai.

Dubai’s rising stature as a top global liveability hub
At the City Briefing, DET highlighted Dubai’s position as a top global liveability hub with a string of accolades reaffirming Dubai’s position as the best city in the world to visit, live and work in. In addition to being ranked the No.1 global destination in TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2023, Dubai was named as the world’s No.1 city to relocate to, based on a recent survey published by leading financial services provider Remitly.

Dubai was ranked the best city in the world for remote workers in the top 20 list of the 2023 Executive Nomad Index compiled by property consultancy Savills. The UAE was also named as the second safest country in the world in 2023 by Numbeo, the world’s largest database of user-contributed data about cities and countries.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, commented, “Our achievements in the first 10 months of 2023 indicate that we are firmly on track to achieve our goals in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid to cement Dubai’s position as one of the top three global cities, as envisaged under the D33 Agenda. At this pivotal stage of our tourism journey that has also energised the progress of global tourism, it’s important to acknowledge the synergy that has fuelled this exceptional performance, which is essentially the collective resilience and the continued support of our stakeholders and partners.”

Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said, “The City Briefing underscored how Dubai has taken its leadership role in transforming global tourism to a new level. Under the guidance of our visionary leadership, and in collaboration with our stakeholders and partners, we are truly proud of the success achieved as a city, further validated by the accolades and achievements, as well as our numerous strengths citywide including ease of access, commitment to safety and security, a unique lifestyle and exceptional service at all touchpoints, that continue to shape Dubai’s success story.

As we gather today to strategise our path forward, we are filled with optimism that both domestic and global tourism will continue on a high-growth trajectory, and have no doubt that 2024 will see us achieving new milestones, as we continually strive to realise the goals of the D33 Agenda.”

City Briefing
The day’s proceedings commenced with Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), delivering an industry overview through a comprehensive presentation, which encompassed valuable insights into visitor patterns and marketing strategies. Furthermore, participants were briefed on global campaigns including the latest ‘Winter Sun’ proposition targeting Europeans, and the successful Africa content strategy focused on music, showcasing Dubai and shedding light on its diverse offering.

The event also highlighted notable achievements such as Dubai’s recognition as the No.1 global destination for the second year in a row in the Tripadvisor Travellers Choice Awards 2023. Two Dubai-based restaurants secured a place on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 List while the second edition of the Michelin Guide Dubai featured a total of 90 restaurants.

The number of two MICHELIN-starred restaurants increased from 2 to 3, one MICHELIN-starred restaurants rose from 9 to 11, and Bib Gourmands from 14 to 17. Many other Dubai restaurants received acknowledgment in the GaultMillau culinary guidebook published by the renowned food critic brand. The bi-annual briefing also highlighted the importance of strategic partnerships to further drive messaging and reach wider audiences, notably Dubai’s partnership with Real Madrid which underlines the potential that can be achieved when two leading brands collaborate to support growth plans.

Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), highlighted key features of Dubai’s Retail Calendar for 2023, featuring iconic citywide festivals, events, activations, and experiences. This includes the highly anticipated 29th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival, which commenced on 8 December 2023.

Year of Sustainability
As the UAE’s Year of Sustainability draws to a close, the city’s commitment to developing maritime sustainability was highlighted with the recently announced Dubai Reef project. This is also exemplified by initiatives like the citywide sustainability movement, ‘Dubai Can’ which demonstrates Dubai’s pledge to support marine life, enhance marine biodiversity and further aspirations to establish Dubai as a leading global sustainable city.

With sustainability a key pillar of its growth strategy, DET also shared updates on various initiatives aligned with Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, the D33 Agenda, the Net Zero 2050 initiative and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

DET currently leads Dubai Sustainable Tourism, an initiative that supports the tourism sector to achieve its sustainability goals through various programmes and activities including the 19 Sustainability Requirements, making Dubai the first city in the world to establish mandatory sustainability requirements as part of the hotel classification system and the Dubai Sustainable Tourism Stamp, which is awarded to hotel establishments that have gained the highest ranking for compliance with 19 ‘Sustainability Requirements’. Another mechanism highlighted at the event was the Carbon Calculator, a system to help stakeholders and partners identify cost saving opportunities.