NEW DELHI: If there is one overseas destination Indian tourists cannot get enough of, it is Dubai. India has overtaken Saudi Arabia to emerge as the number one international tourist source market for Dubai, according to statistics shared by Dubai Tourism. Of the 14.9 million overseas tourists visiting Dubai in 2016, 1.8 million were Indian, an increase of almost 12% over 2015. Overall Dubai registered an increase of 5% in its overall visitor numbers.
“Our target is to double our visitor numbers from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million by 2020. India is our number one international source market now and we will make sure we continue with that pace. The Saudi visitors have grown but the growth in Indian visitors has surpassed the growth of Saudi visitors,” said Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Tourism.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of UAE and the ruler of Dubai had launched the 2020 tourism strategy.
Kazim expects the bilateral relations between the two countries to solidify after Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi crown prince and deputy supreme commander of the UAW armed forces visited India as the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations.
80% of the overseas visitors in Dubai were leisure visitors and the rest were business travellers.
Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Tourism said with international overnight traffic reaching 14.9 million, Dubai has cemented its ranking as the fourth most visited city in the world and that Dubai’s tourism sector has responded with agility in all its markets, has diversified strategies to minimise single market exposure, and has converged as an industry across government, private and public sector.
“The effectiveness of our three-pronged approach is evidenced by the encouraging 13% growth in volumes from South Asia led by India, despite the demonetisation and cash pressures facing the market,” Almarri said.
2016 also saw a 20% growth in Chinese visitors for Dubai, crossing the half million mark for the first time with 540,000 tourists arriving in Dubai; and Russian tourists recording a 14% growth.