Dubai’s Summer of Tourism Was Red-Hot as Russians Fill the City
20.09.2023 - 08:29
/ Josh Corder
Dubai continues to pull ahead of its pre-pandemic tourism numbers. The emirate drew in 9.8 million international travelers up to July this year, according to the latest data from Dubai Tourism. For the same period in 2019, Dubai had 9.6 million international visitors, and in 2022, welcomed 8.1 million up to that point.
The data displays all the typical flocks coming into the city – India up to July 2023 accounted for 1.4 million travelers, the city’s perennial largest tourism driver. Russia also remained comfortable in the second spot, with 673,000 travelers coming from the country since July.
Travel from Russia has boomed in Dubai, increasing 93% from a year earlier, with many Russians – the wealthy ones at least – settling in Dubai amid conflict in their own country.
Average daily rates in the city’s 800-plus hotels were 508 dirhams (approximately $138), 20% higher than July 2019’s 422 dirhams (approx. $114).
While a million travelers ahead of where it was at the same time last year, the city is still behind its previous aspirations set before the pandemic. Before Covid-19 struck, the emirate had set out to reach 20 million travelers by 2020, and it managed to hit 16.73 million for 2019.
After the pandemic, Dubai authorities focused on surpassing its 2019 figures. With 9.7 million travelers in the seventh month of this year, the city is averaging 1.4 million travelers a month, whereas it would need a 1.7 million per month average to hit 20 million annually.
Qatar travel is a mixed bag. After the highs of last year’s FIFA World Cup (in terms of travelers coming in), the small Arab state has struggled to fill the many rooms it scrambled to open in time for the 2022 sporting event.
The latest data from Qatar Tourism shows 38,842 hotel keys in the country last month, an additional 8,000 compared to August 2022. While this has given the country a 26% increase in room nights for the month, both average daily rates and revenue per available room (RevPAR) dipped 7% as hoteliers have to lower their prices to fill rooms.
In fact, with an average daily rate (ADR) of 367 Qatar riyals ($100) last month, it is the lowest average daily rate in the country since before 2019.
Elsewhere in the GCC, Bahrain had a hotter summer. The Kingdom’s data is a bit behind Dubai and Qatar’s, only now releasing its half-year performance for tourism.
In those six months, Bahrain saw visits jump 51% YoY from 3.9 million to 5.9 million. Total inbound tourism revenues increased by 48% to 924 million Bahraini dirhams ($2.45 billion).
The number of one-day visitors jumped by 43%, from 2.3 million visitors seen in the first half of 2022, to reach 3.3 million visitors this year. The number of overnight visitors increased by