A spate of new tourist attractions and a raft of visitor-friendly initiatives have put Dubai firmly on track to achieve its goal of becoming the world’s most-favoured destination for international visitors, giving a critical fillip to the emirate’s economic rebound. Dubai, which has topped the “Best of the Best Destinations” awards, staged a strong recovery in the tourism sector by recording 10 million international tourist arrivals during the first nine months of 2022 compared to 3.85 million visitors in the same period last year, reflecting a growth of 136 per cent, according to Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) In the first half of 2022, the emirate drew 7.12 visitors, recording more than 183 per cent growth compared to the 2.52 million tourists who visited during the same period in 2021, according to DET data. The tourism revenue of the UAE, which was ranked second among the safest countries in the world in 2021 and ranked third among the safest cities for solo female travellers, surpassed $5 billion in the first half of this year compared to $3 billion in the same period last year. The number of hotel guests that the country received rose to 12 million – registering a 42 per cent year-on-year growth. According to projection, the travel and tourism industry will contribute about Dh280.6 billion to the country’s GDP by 2028 as the UAE is estimated to record 31 million tourist arrivals by 2025, mostly driven by Dubai’s fast spreading appeal as a destination for travel, business and investment. According to the World Bank forecast, the country’s economy is expected to grow by 5.9 per cent in 2022 before moderating to 4.1 per cent in 2023. Travel and hospitality industry analysts observed that in the years ahead, Dubai with its superb tourism infrastructure and visitor-friendly visa and investment rules will continue to evolve as a destination that offers compelling value to international travellers aided by emerging travel trends like Bleisure and sustainable tourism. “We are always working to strengthen Dubai’s position as a global center for entertainment and trade, and one of the safest destinations around the world for holidays,” says Ahmed Al Marri, head of Region – GCC and Mena International Operations, DET. Dubai has been significantly boosting its hotel room capacity while adding a string of new attractions for tourists. These include Expo City Dubai, the Museum of the Future, Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, The Club at Palm West Beach, Terra Solis by Tomorrowland, Pavilion at The Beach, Dubai Hills Mall, and Sky Views Dubai, apart from the iconic Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest indoor aquarium and the biggest shopping destination the Dubai Mall. The hotel sector outperformed pre-pandemic levels across all other key measurements – Occupied Room Nights, Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR). Dubai hotel establishments delivered a combined 18.47million occupied room nights during the first six months of the year, a 30.4 per cent YoY growth, and a 18 per cent increase over the pre-pandemic period of H1 2019, which yielded 15.71 million occupied room nights, according Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET). Ata Shobeiry, chief executive of Zoom Property, believes that the rising number of tourists in Dubai is a good sign for various sectors in Dubai. “With tourism being a major source of revenue for Dubai, the rising number of people visiting the emirate is surely benefitting it in more than one way. Apart from tourism, the boost in tourism is helping several sectors to grow, such as hospitality, transportation, food and beverage, and real estate,” Shobeiry said. Dubai’s short-term rental segment has seen a massive increase in demand in 2022, and steady growth in tourism is said to be one of the major reasons for this boost. The latest data reveals that Dubai has around 10,000 active holiday home listings. “When people, HNWIs in particular, visit for tourism or business purposes, they get to experience its grandeur and sophistication first-hand. This compels many to make it their second home, which ultimately leads them to look for real estate opportunities,” Shobeiry said. The wide range of hotel establishments in Dubai presented yet another stellar performance across all hospitality metrics during the first half of 2022. Dubai’s hotel inventory by the end of June 2022 comprised 140,778 rooms open at 773 hotel establishments, compared to 118,345 rooms available at the end of June 2019 across 714 establishments. The total number of hotels in H1 2022 marked an 8.0 per cent growth over H1 2021, highlighting continued strong investor confidence in Dubai’s tourism sector. In 2022, Dubai has 66 hotel projects under construction, of which 58 would be completed by year end.