After a bumpy road of unprecedented dips in its tourism sector, Dubai resurfaces once again thanks to a successful summer season.
The summer months accelerated the number of people vacationing in the Emirati city, bringing digits up to 12.08 million international overnight visitors in the first nine months of 2019. Dubai's Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said this number marks a 4.3 percent increase in volume growth compared to the same period last year. The expansion of traditional and emerging markets helped boost the sector's performance and the effects have been significant.
In September alone, 1.23 million visitors arrived in Dubai, an above-market average increase of 7.3 percent over the same month in 2018.
The staggering rise coincided with Dubai being ranked the fourth most visited city in the world for the fifth year in a row in the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index 2019.
India continues to be Dubai's leading source market, with over 1.39 million visitors recorded from January to September this year. Saudi Arabia now follows India, registering a two percent year-on-year growth for over 1.25 million visitors to the city. This number was largely driven by Saudis vacationing in Dubai during the kingdom's National Day holiday on Sept. 23.
Markets like the UK, the city's third-largest source, brought in 851,000 visitors, while tourists from Oman amounted to 778,000.
China gifted Dubai a 14-percent increase this year, becoming the Khaleeji city's fifth source market when it comes to tourism. As for the U.S., Germany, and Pakistan, they retained their positions in the top 10 alongside the Philippines.
The improvement in the tourism sector, which counts as a major player in the emirate's economy, has been ongoing for a while. In August, DTCM published statistics revealing that the number of international overnight visitors to Dubai had increased by 3 percent in the first six months of 2019.
The blow to Dubai's tourism earlier this year was followed by drastic efforts to boost the sector
In the first quarter of 2019, figures from Dubai Tourism and consultancy firm STR revealed hotels in the emirate were struggling to keep their revenues up. At the time, the decline was attributed to the fact that supply had outgrown demand in the sector, with more hotels being built every year.
That wasn't the only setback, though, because several tourism projects in the country were also put on halt due to financial burdens. However, the emirate's officials didn't stand idle in the face of these obstacles and faced them head-on.
In the past few months, the government introduced different measures in a bid to challenge the slow economic growth rate in the sector. These include lower business fees in certain areas and issuing long-term visas for individuals. Other decisions taken to help boost the sector include canceling visa fees for dependents ages 18 years or below during the summer season (July 15 till Sept. 15).
The Gulf nation also rolled out new laws for tourists this year, allowing them to buy alcohol from shops. To be able to do so, the tourist must be both a non-Muslim and over the age of 21, as well as obtain a free-of-charge license to be able to make a purchase at specific shops.