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What’s behind the remarkable post-pandemic performance of Dubai’s hospitality industry?
Despite the curveballs thrown by COVID-19 and recent global conflicts that disrupted travel worldwide, Dubai is defying the odds and emerging as the superstar of the tourism world.
In the first half of this year, a staggering 8.5 million globetrotters chose Dubai as their destination, breaking the city’s record for number of visitors. Fast forward to July 2023, and that number has surged to a jaw-dropping 9.83 million. Freshly released data by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism also reveals that in 2022, Dubai hosted 14.36 million international overnight visitors. By comparison, in 2021, just 7.26 million stayed overnight.
The city hasn’t just bounced back, it has soared past regional and global expectations. In fact, during 2022, Dubai reached 86% of its pre-pandemic visitor levels, beating even the most optimistic projections by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation for international tourist arrivals in 2023.
One of the key drivers behind Dubai’s success as a tourist and business destination is the UAE’s strong economic performance. While the rest of the world has been grappling with soaring inflation rates, the UAE has managed to keep things in check. In 2022, inflation in the UAE stayed at a modest 4.8%, thanks in part to generous government subsidies, particularly for essentials like food and fuel. In comparison, the rest of the world experienced much higher inflation at 8.7%, according to the International Monetary Fund. Looking ahead, the UAE is on track to lower inflation to 3.1% in 2023 and return to a stable 2.6% rate in 2024. Alongside keeping inflation in check, the UAE has also exceeded expectations in economic growth, despite increasing concerns about a global recession. In 2022, the UAE saw an economic growth rate of 7.6%, the highest in over a decade. Although experts at Fitch foresee a slight dip to 3.3% for the UAE in 2023 due to oil production cuts, the country’s economy has been recognised globally for its impressive post-pandemic recovery. The tourism sector is a clear reflection of the UAE’s wider economic successes. The sector’s GDP growth is set to nearly double from 2021 to a remarkable 36.1%, and by 2024, it’s predicted to reach levels we haven’t seen since 2019. Back then, travel and tourism contributed a substantial 11.6% to the country’s GDP, raking in AED 180.4 billion.
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