India retained its position as Dubai’s leading source market, with more than 1.39 million visitors during the first nine months of 2019.
What helped with this were the promotional activities launched by Dubai Tourism, including the collaboration with Indian film actor Shah Rukh Khan, campaigns across digital and broadcast platforms, as well as capitalising on a federal government decision to exempt children under 18 from visa fees during the summer months.
This helped as evidenced in the increase in travel share of Indian families with children by a substantial 13 percentage points from 32 to 45% during the nine-month period in 2019 over the same period last year.
Solidifying its position as the highest traffic volume generator for the GCC, Saudi Arabia registered a 2% year-on-year growth for over 1.25 million visitors, largely driven by the KSA National Day holiday on September 23, which saw Saudi arrivals registering a massive growth of more than 36% when compared to the same holiday period in 2018.
With Dubai emphasising its priority focus on Saudi families, tourism campaigns and promotions dominated digital, social and multi-media platforms ensuring that the city’s custom line-up of events, entertainment and lifestyle offerings for KSA were always relevant and accessible.
Despite the devaluation of the pound against the dollar, and continued Brexit uncertainty, UK remained Dubai’s third largest source market with 851,000 visitors.
China, one of the fastest-growing source markets, further increased tourism volumes, taking fifth spot with a 14% increase that saw 729,000 Chinese tourists being welcomed in the first nine months of 2019.
It is a reflection of Dubai’s successful four-pronged approach: (i) regulatory changes that were introduced earlier such as granting Chinese citizens free visa-on-arrival access to the UAE, (ii) strategies aimed at retaining relevance and attractiveness for this market through platform-based awareness programmes, (iii) tailored trip-planning via leading social and digital ecosystem partners, and (iv) in-city experiences through its ‘China Readiness’ initiative aimed at offering Chinese visitors exceptional experiences across all tourism touchpoints.
Markets across the MENA region maintained a volume of 10%, with Egypt climbing one place to No. 13 with a 9% increase in visitors. Russia, CIS and the Eastern Europe region contributed 8% of the volume base, with the visitor influx from this region seeing the emergence of Kazakhstan as a top 20 source market for the first time with a 24% increase in volumes – thanks in part to the visa on arrival provisions which were extended to cover a wider range of countries within this region.
His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai Tourism, said: “Our market-specific diversified strategy aimed at driving consideration from a broad spectrum of countries and visitor segments, continues to help us successfully navigate macro-economic vagaries over a nine-month period, culminating in a record number of visitors between January-September, particularly those choosing Dubai as their summer destination of choice. These latest figures affirm the strength of the emirate’s tourism industry, and our strong seasonal performance speaks to the effectiveness of our ‘Always On’ campaigns across key feeder markets coupled with ecosystem collaboration to deliver value, variety and diversity to all our audiences.