Dubai strengthens its status as one of the world’s most open cities

The Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2022 concluded last week in Dubai, attracting more than 23,000 visitors from around the world at its first full house event since the pandemic.

The city’s exceptional response to the pandemic, its ability to provide one of the world’s safest environments and its gathering pace of economic growth made it the preferred international destination for business, tourism and events. The growing confidence of global travellers in Dubai is evidenced by the fact that key indicators in the tourism, hospitality and MICE sectors now meet and even exceed pre-pandemic levels.

Between January and March 2022, Dubai welcomed almost four million international overnight visitors, an increase of 214 per cent on the previous year, confirming its position as the first destination for global travellers. The city also ranked first globally in hotel occupancy in the first quarter of 2022 at 82 per cent.

Dubai International (DXB) remains the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passengers for the eighth consecutive year, reaching 29.1 million annual passengers in 2021.

Popular family holiday events have continued to raise Dubai’s profile as a major destination for culture, shopping and entertainment over the past six months. The 26th Global Village season recently concluded with a record 7.8 million visitors. In addition, the ongoing Dubai Food Festival and the 25th edition of Dubai Summer Surprises, the largest festival of its kind in the region, should significantly increase arrivals and strengthen Dubai’s appeal as a summer tourism hotspot.

Earlier this year, Tripadvisor’s ‘Travelers’ Choice 2022′ report ranked Dubai as the most popular tourist destination in the world. In addition, Dubai’s recent selection as the #1 destination for ‘city lovers’ and #4 destination for ‘food lovers’ in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2022 confirms the city’s continued appeal to travellers around the world.

In 2021, Dubai established itself as the world’s leading destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) with a series of events that put it at the centre of global discussions on revitalising key sectors.

Expo 2020, the largest event in the history of World Fairs, brought together 192 participating countries at Connecting Minds, Creating the Future in a celebration of culture, innovation and science. The six-month-long mega-fest attracted more than 24 million visitors from residents and travellers around the world. Other global events contributing to the city’s attendance growth included the Dubai World Cup, Binance Blockchain Week, Gulfood, Dubai International Boat Show and the iconic Dubai Trade Festival. This year’s World Government Summit in Dubai brought together more than 4,000 international participants, including senior government officials, to share ideas on creating responsible governments that can address the challenges of the future.

Over the past six months, Dubai has also hosted major industry congresses and conferences, including the International Society of Urology Congress, the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ annual technical conference and exhibition, the International Astronautical Congress, the World Camera Congress and Gastech, bringing together industry leaders from around the world.

Over the past year, Dubai’s sports sector has been a key driver of the city’s tourism recovery, attracting players and fans from all over the world and further strengthening Dubai’s position as a multi-faceted destination. Major tournament winners and former champions led the star-studded field at the Dubai Desert Classic held at Emirates Golf Club in January this year. Leading international tennis stars took part in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (DDFTC) men’s tournament, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in February this year. In November last year, Dubai also hosted most of the matches and finals of the month-long ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup, which was passionately followed by billions of cricket fans.

Dubai also consolidated its status as one of the world’s leading medical tourism destinations last year, welcoming 630,000 international medical tourists, according to a report released by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).  Expenditure by international patients reached almost AED 730 million last year, despite the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The fact that the city has become one of the most open destinations in the post-pandemic world reflects its ability to reinvent itself in a changing global environment.  The sheer international diversity of its visitors also demonstrates Dubai’s growing status as a city connecting global markets and cultures.

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