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Demand for Dubai tourism ‘going up’ despite challenges

The Global Village in Dubai Reuters
The Global Village in Dubai runs is among the attractions for tourists
  • Inflation and rising oil prices will not dent Dubai tourism, says official
  • Demand in early 2023 was almost at pre-pandemic levels
  • Dubai targetting first-time visitors for growth

One of Dubai’s leading tourism figures has brushed off concerns over rising oil prices and stubbornly high inflation, striking a bullish tone on the outlook for growth in the emirate’s tourism industry ahead of a major conference.  

“We constantly monitor demand from forward bookings, and we can see that the demand for Dubai is going up,” said Issam Kazim, chief executive of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM).

In total, Dubai recorded 3.1 million guests from January to February this year, compared with the 3.14 million recorded in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We’re very close to reaching our pre-pandemic figures,” said Kazim. “The momentum continues to accelerate.”

In January Dubai was ranked as the number one global destination in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for a second successive year.

Kazim was speaking ahead of the 30th edition of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now one of the world’s biggest travel conferences. 

This year’s ATM is expected to draw in an anticipated 34,000 attendees from more than 150 countries. 

Kazim said that DCTCM was trying to attract more first-time visitors to Dubai and contribute to growth in tourism by increasing the number of stopover visits. 

Adnan Kazim, chief commercial officer at Dubai’s flagship airline, Emirates, said that direct flight bookings to Dubai currently account for 35 to 40 percent of the airline’s business and that the airline is working closely with part of the department of economy and tourism to increase the share of stopover bookings. 

He said that Emirates would announce new partnerships at the ATM. 

Emirates announced at the beginning of the year that it was boosting connectivity to China to cater to growing demand; the airline currently flies to Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. 

Chinese visitors have grown to be one of the largest sources of tourism to Dubai in the last decade. Numbers increased 176 percent year on year to 52,000 in January and February – still down 75 percent on the same period in 2019 – after the lifting of Covid-related travel restrictions.

“We’re putting a lot of capacity back to China to capture the recovery that’s happening in that market,” said Kazim. He said that Emirates will start operating a daily A380 flight to Shanghai from June 4 and to Beijing from July 1.