Who’s visiting Dubai?
The emirate was hit by a substantial decline in tourist numbers last year, but could be on the road to recovery.
January 31, 2010 2:14 by Aarti Nagraj
Part of the brief of the Dubai Shopping Festival, which opened last Thursday, is to attract visitors to the emirate. Around 19 percent of Dubai’s GDP comes from tourism, and the sector has played an integral part in efforts to diversify the economy.
But jostling for the tourist dollar is a tough undertaking in the wake of the financial downturn. No wonder, then, that Dubai tourist numbers were down by 1.3 percent during the first nine months of 2009, according to a report in The National.
Worryingly, the decline was more severe in the latter half of the year. According to data from the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), published by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Dubai tourist numbers were down by 5.7 percent in the third quarter of 2009, compared with the same period the previous year.
The hotel sector seems to be hit disproportionally hard by the fall in tourist numbers. A report by market research company Business Monitor International said that hotel occupancy rates in Dubai during January-October 2009 fell to 67.9 percent, a 13 percent drop compared to the same period in 2008. The report estimated that tourist arrivals to the UAE were down by 5 percent in 2009, and 2 percent in 2008.
You do not have to look far for the reason behind the drop in tourism. It was, of course, due to the global recession, which prompted many Western travelers to stay at home (or, at least, closer to home) for their holidays.