Dubai: Dubai welcomed a record 4.7 million foreign tourists in the first quarter this calendar signalling strong growth momentum for the economy, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) said in a statement on Friday.
"Welcoming 4.7 million international overnight tourists from January-March 2018, the emirate posted a stable 2 per cent increase in traffic versus the same period last year," Dubai Tourism said.
The department said it hopes to build on the strong base of 4.7 million visitors to accelerate momentum on the back of its strategic investments, partnerships and policy enablers that would collectively drive strong growth in 2018.
"The first quarter of the year has yielded stable performance supporting strong growth for all adjacent sectors like hotels and airlines," said Dubai Tourism Director General Helal Saeed Almarri.
The department said visitors from India increased by seven per cent to 617,000 and Russia posted a 106 per cent rise over the same quarter last year by delivering 259,000 tourists after visa-on-arrival facilities for Russian citizens began early last year.
China also continued to leverage its visa-on-arrival status, delivering 258,000 Chinese visitors, up by 12 per cent.
Europe made particularly strong contributions in the first three months of the year posting double-digit increases in most countries. Germany was up 13 per cent with 194,000 visitors, France up 17 per cent with 103,000 and Italy up 20 per cent with 80,000 visitors.
In a record first appearance, Sweden featured among Dubai's top 20 source markets, delivering 42,000 visitors, up 9 per cent.
"From a regional perspective, Western Europe retained pole position, contributing an unprecedented 23 per cent of overnight visitor volumes, ahead of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region and South Asia, both with 17 per cent shares," said the department.
Dubai's tourism proposition is likely to rise further with more attractions and leisure destinations due to open later this year, it said.
"As we move forward, the steadfast support we receive from our government, public and private sector partners is invaluable, and together we can look forward to delivering our Tourism Vision target of welcoming 20 million annual visitors by 2020," said Helal Saeed Almarri.
At the end of March 2018, Dubai's growing hotel room inventory stood at 108,807 spread across 689 hotel and hotel apartment establishments. The average occupancy rate across all hotel and hotel apartment categories stood at 87 per cent.
"These figures indicate that the city continues to present a hugely attractive investment opportunity for hoteliers and developers, with the sector successfully balancing demand and capacity to produce positive results," said Dubai Tourism.