The tourism sector in Dubai appeared to have taken a hit earlier this year, with leading international luxury hotel chain Jumeirah Group cutting hundreds of jobs. However, new figures uncovered that the dip in one of the emirate's most lively industries was only short-lived.
Statistics recently published by Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing revealed that the number of international overnight visitors to Dubai increased by 3 percent in the first half of 2019. Compared to last year (8.10 million), 2019 witnessed the arrival of around 8.36 million tourists.
According to officials, the countries that saw the largest increase in visitors include China, which saw a boost of 11 percent in year-on-year visits.
As for the UAE - Dubai, specifically - visitors from Oman spiked in numbers with a year-on-year growth of 28 percent, while the Philippines recorded a 29 percent increase in tourists traveling to the emirate. Tourists arriving from these countries helped balance out declines from other international markets like the UK and India. In previous years, India was considered Dubai's largest tourism source market but its visitor numbers declined by 8 percent this year. Visitors from the UK, which is the emirate's third-largest source market, dropped by two percent.
According to The National, it is expensive to plan a trip to Dubai if you're coming from either India or the UK since the currency in both countries has dropped. "The Indian rupee has declined in value against the dollar by 2.5 percent since the start of the year, while the pound is 4.7 percent lower," the English language daily wrote.
Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, kept its place as the emirate's second-largest tourism market, with China and Oman following fourth and fifth respectively.
The figures come at a time when several of the emirate's hotels are reporting drops in their booking numbers.
"Designed to counter unforeseen macroeconomic variables faced by the global travel ecosystem and mitigate impediments associated with over-reliance on any one market or region, we have been long-standing proponents of a globally diversified market strategy — which continues to support our resilience as a sector," Helal Saeed Al Marri, director general of Dubai Tourism, said.
"Stakeholder engagement is crucial to generating tourism growth," he added, attributing the attraction of Chinese tourists to the country to a long-standing "three-pronged" engagement plan.
The recent numbers mark a positive leap in the industry, which has been facing obstacles in the past few months. Earlier this year, figures from Dubai Tourism and consultancy firm STR revealed "that both the average daily rate charged by hoteliers and revenue per available room continued to fall during the first half of the year." These numbers were attributed to the fact that supply has outgrown demand in the sector, with more hotels being built every year.
But not all has been negative as June witnessed quite the pickup in numbers, witnessing a 30.5 percent jump in demand. It is expected that hotel bookings will continue to pick up in the months leading to Expo 2020, which is set to be held in Dubai next year.