The UAE will remain the preferred GCC destination for European tourists, with a projected 8.3 million visitors anticipated by 2023, the latest data from the Expedia Group has revealed.
Travellers from the UK and France led the surge in tourists visiting the destination in Q1, 2019, according to the online travel giant’s booking statistics.
Demand for travel to the UAE from France soared 40% year on year from January to March 2019 compared to the same period last year, commanding a 5% share of total room nights, while the UK’s share of room nights reached 15%, up almost 5% year on year.
Fast-growing source markets for the UAE also included Ireland, with package holiday demand from the Republic growing 40% year on year, followed by Sweden, up 30%, Expedia said.
“The UAE continues to be a hotspot for international travellers and we are noticing high growth in demand from new countries and regions,” confirmed Paula De Keijzer, Senior Director, Market Management Middle East, Indian Ocean, Africa, Greece & Turkey at the Expedia Group.
Factors contributing to increased European demand for travel to the UAE included new and direct flights, as well as free 48-hour transit visas and visa on arrival facilities, she continued.
New attractions and hotels being built in time for Expo 2020 Dubai would add to the UAE’s appeal and further boost European tourism numbers going forward, De Keijzer added.
Expedia said Dubai remained a major draw for international tourists, citing its status as a world-class air hub as its “greatest competitive advantage”.
Dubai received 4.75 million international overnight visitors in Q1, a 2% increase compared to Q1, 2018, according to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).
India remained the top source market during the quarter with 564,836 visitors, followed by Saudi Arabia with 411,586 tourists and the UK with 326,586 travellers.
The number of visitors from China grew 13% year-on-year, with 291,662 visitors choosing to visit the city. Oman followed in fifth place, emerging as the fastest-growing source country with a 27% rise in visitor numbers to 263,182.
Germany, the US, Pakistan and France rounded out Dubai’s top 10 source markets.
During the first quarter, the emirate saw the addition of new tourism destinations and attractions such as Bluewaters Island, Al Shindagha Museum, The Pointe mall at Palm Jumeirah and the ‘Al Marmoom Bedouin Experience’ tourism project.