Tourism in the GCC, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, continued to grow robustly in 2023, although regional tensions affected Q4 numbers for the wider MENA region.
The MENA region was affected by the October outbreak of the Israel-Gaza conflict, which resulted in a decline in tourism for many neighbouring nations, most notably Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.
However, the GCC has seen a different picture, with well-known travel destinations like Riyadh, Jeddah, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi continuing on their current growth trajectories.
The tourism sector was expected to grow faster in 2023 than it did in the pre-pandemic travel and hospitality sector, according to new data released by the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).
From January to October, Dubai saw a record 13.9 million visitors, up from 13.5 million in the same period in 2019.
During the first ten months of this year, the GCC and MENA regions constituted 29% of all foreign visitors to Dubai, followed by Western Europe at 19% and South Asian tourists at 18%.
The average hotel occupancy rate from January to October of this year was 76%, which is higher than the 74% rate for the same period in 2019.
The accomplishment holds special significance since Dubai has seen increases in hotel establishment and room capacity of 13% and 22%, respectively, since 2019.
New York and London were the top two cities in the world for occupancy, with Dubai coming in at a mere 0.01% behind Paris, according to the most recent STR Global Hotel Monitoring Update. Demand was high up to December when Dubai hosted COP28.
According to the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority, air traffic at the nation’s airports increased by 15% from November 30 to December 13. Other travel agreements have been signed to lure travellers from European markets, and Abu Dhabi has been making progress toward its goal of welcoming over 24 million tourists to the Emirates this year by hosting significant international events like the F1 Grand Prix.