Russian tourists in the first half of this year increased by a staggerring 74% compared to last year which went towards Dubai's first half tourism numbers of 8.1 million international overnight tourists from January to June, representing a consistent level as the same period last year.
The top tourist positions are retained by India, KSA and the UK. Indian tourists crossed the 1-million-mark in the first half recording a growth of 3 percent on last year.
As well as Russia, China also topped the growth charts this year following the introduction of visa-on-arrival facilities for Chinese and Russian visitors that came into effect in late 2016 and early 2017.
China came in at fourth place with a growth of nine percent over last year as 453,000 tourists visited the UAE. Meanwhile Russia's growth saw 405,000 visitors in total.
The first half of 2018 also witnessed increased visitors from the USA and Germany, with 327,000 and 302,000 visitors respectively.
As a whole, Western Europe contributed 21 per cent of total overnight visitors maintaining its position as the largest source of visitors.
According to the statement released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), credit to the strong numbers has been given to the continuous innovative and customised marketing-promotions, including a multi award winning campaign #BeMYGuest which involved celebrity ambassadors to target an international audience. Other initiatives enabling future growth include the recent introduction of the stopover visa, whereby transit passengers are exempt from all entry fees for the first forty-eight hours of their stay. Additionally, future visa regulation changes such as exempting dependents aged 18 years or below from visa fees, are expected to boost tourist numbers even further.
His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai Tourism, commented: “Looking ahead to the second half of 2018, and additional areas of growth for the tourism sector, the recent move to implement a value added tax (VAT) refund mechanism for tourists will also ensure the industry’s competitiveness globally and drive further growth in its GDP contribution to Dubai.”
Occupied room nights also went up over this period with a total of 14.97 million compared to 14.53 million during the same period in 2017, demonstrating that visitos are also staying longer.