Dubai welcomed 4.67 million international overnight visitors in the first quarter of 2023, compared to 3.97 million tourists during the same period in 2022. This marks a 17 percent YoY growth and the city’s best Q1 performance since the pandemic, placing it firmly on track to becoming the most visited international destination, according to the latest data published by Dubai’s Department of Economy & Tourism (DET). The growth, which sets the city on course to full tourism recovery, contributes to the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai this January, to consolidate Dubai’s status as one of the world’s top three cities. His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, said: “The remarkable growth in international visitation achieved by Dubai in the first quarter of 2023 demonstrates the city’s emergence as one of the key destinations leading the way in the rebound of the global tourism sector. This achievement has been made possible by the far-reaching vision of the leadership to transform Dubai into one of the world’s fastest-growing metropolises and the globe’s pre-eminent hub for travel, talent, entrepreneurship and investment. The Dubai Economic Agenda recently launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, charts an ambitious new path for Dubai to enhance its contributions to shaping the future of the global economy. The tourism sector is not only the strongest pillars of our economy but also a key enabler of Dubai’s distinctive role in the world as a bridge between markets, cultures and regions. In the years ahead, Dubai will continue to introduce new pathbreaking initiatives to offer a distinctive proposition for travelers and achieve its goal of becoming the world’s best place to live, visit, work and invest in.” The latest industry results – announced at the ongoing 30th edition of Arabian Travel Market in Dubai World Trade Centre, positions Dubai as the fastest recovering destination globally, achieving 98 percent of pre-pandemic levels in Q1 2023, and exceeding the projection made by the United Nations World Trade Organization that international tourist arrivals could reach between 80-95 percent of pre-pandemic levels this year, especially in Europe and the Middle East. The number of visitors in Q1 2023 was just two percentage points short of pre-pandemic volume of 4.75 million tourists that arrived in Dubai in the first three months of 2019, a remarkable achievement since turning the tide in July 2020 by reopening the city to international tourists, and in spite of current global economic headwinds. The industry performance also capped an exceptional first quarter for Dubai, which saw the city being crowned again as the No.1 global destination in TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2023, making it only the second time in history a city has won the coveted award for two years in a row. Dubai’s traditional source markets delivered solid tourism volumes during the first quarter of the year with key regions continuing to make an impact on international visitation, further underscoring the success of the city’s diversified multi-geographic strategy. GCC and MENA combined was the top region, collectively contributing to 29 percent of total volumes, reflecting the city’s continued appeal for travellers from neighbouring markets. Western Europe accounted for 22 percent of tourism arrivals, while South Asia, accounted for 16 percent of total international visitation, followed by CIS and Eastern Europe together contributing 15 percent, Americas, North Asia and South East Asia, Africa and Australasia. In an effort to fortify its existing and emerging markets, as well as uncover fresh opportunities for growth both in the domestic and international markets, Dubai’s DET is ramping up its pursuit of non-traditional tourism avenues to attract visitors. This approach is particularly crucial, as the success of Dubai’s tourism strategy will largely hinge on the pillars of sustainability, gastronomy, trade and technology. As Dubai shifts towards a more advanced, inclusive, long-term approach to sustainable growth, sustainability is becoming increasingly important as an opportunity and driving force for growth, as more and more travelers seek out sustainable destinations. Sustainability is a core component of Dubai’s development strategy, and hosting global events like COP28 will provide an exceptional opportunity to highlight the Dubai Sustainable Tourism (DST) initiative designed to enhance the sustainability of the tourism sector and contribute to broader clean energy and sustainable development objectives. DST will also prepare Dubai to cater to global travellers seeking authentic local experiences that promote sustainable practices. A key DST initiative is the Dubai Can campaign, which encourages the use of reusable bottles. The initiative has successfully reduced the number of single-use plastic water bottles by over 7 million in just one year since its launch in February 2022. Leveraging its position as an international events destination to draw more visitors to its MICE, business and leisure events, Q1 2023 saw Dubai hosting an extensive line-up of events including the Dubai Shopping Festival, the flagship festival of the city’s year-round Retail Calendar, Art Dubai, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Dubai Duty Free Tennis, the Dubai World Cup, Dubai International Boat Show, World Government Summit, as well as Gulfood, the world’s largest annual food & beverage exhibition, which hosted a record 5,000 plus exhibitors from over 125 countries. In addition to COP28, other major events that are set to create greater visibility for Dubai around the world this year are the family summer extravaganza, Dubai Summer Surprises, Dubai Esports and Games Festival and Dubai Fitness Challenge.