27 Sep 2022
UAE celebrates World Tourism Day 2022 with a record number of achievements in the sector
Tourism and retail sector activities achieved the biggest growth in terms of their contribution to GDP in Q1 2022
The UAE joined the world in celebrating the World Tourism Day 2022, which falls on September 27 every year, boasting a string of achievements and innovative initiatives that have strengthened its position as one of the top tourism destinations that attract tourists from all over the world. Foremost among them is the pioneering infrastructure, distinguished services and facilities, advanced hospitality establishments, diverse destinations and choices, rich and unique heritage, safe and stable climate, and a society that is open, tolerant, and uniquely inclusive of diverse cultures.
The UAE’s tourism sector is an example of flexibility, diversity, and continuous development within a short period, thanks to the support and directives of the wise leadership and its forward-looking vision for the future. This enabled the country to attract more than 100 million visitors over the past five years and promoted the sustainable growth of this vital sector, making it one of the key pillars of the country's new economic model. In fact, it succeeded in achieving growth rates that exceeded pre-pandemic levels and revenues amounting to AED 19 billion in H1 2022. Besides, the number of hotel guests in the country grew by 42 per cent from 2021 to reach 12 million, which reflects the strength and efficiency of national tourism.
Tourism activities/services including accommodation services, hotels, and restaurants, achieved significant growth, surpassing other sectors in terms of their contribution to the national GDP. It grew by 35.3 per cent at constant prices and 128.8 per cent at current prices during the first quarter of 2022 according to the report of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre, which confirms the UAE's leading position as a sustainable tourism and hospitality destination.
The World Tourism Day this year is being celebrated under the theme "Rethinking Tourism", which is an approach adopted by the country early on in formulating innovative strategies. It further enhanced the growth prospects for the tourism sector in line with the ambitious development goals for the next fifty years.
The UAE is one of the first countries in the region that took the initiative to develop the tourism sector and gave it great attention, as the Dubai Shopping Festival was launched in 1996. It is one of the oldest specialized tourism festivals in the region today. Distinctive tourism destinations have also been developed in the country and are promoted at international forums and exhibitions on an ongoing basis, which increased the number of international visitors flocking to the UAE. The distinguished geographical location of the country and the development of infrastructure also contributed to the tourism sector’s growth.
Today, the UAE continues its efforts to support the tourism sector according to a clear strategy and innovative forward-looking plans that ensure the sustainability of the sector and provide an attractive and supportive climate for innovative tourism projects. The country has also been keen to promote its tourism destinations to meet its economic ambitions through the Unified Tourism Identity initiative, which is an extension of the country's visual media identity.
Similarly, the country has attached great importance to its domestic tourism sector as His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, approved the domestic tourism strategy. It aims to create an integrated local tourism ecosystem in coordination with various local and federal bodies and institutions; heritage, culture, and community entertainment sector, to double domestic tourism spending and create more opportunities for the business sector.
The ‘Coolest Winter’ campaign, launched by the UAE government media office in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy under the domestic tourism strategy, had a great impact on advancing tourism movement. It is the first unified campaign for domestic tourism, which achieved big success in its first edition itself. It contributed to an increase in the number of hotel guests by 17 per cent compared to the same period in 2019, with 950,000 hotel guests. In addition, it helped hotel establishments in the country generate a total of AED 1 billion. Subsequently, the second edition of the campaign contributed to an increase in revenues of hotel establishments to reach AED 1.5 billion with a 50 per cent growth over the first edition, while the number of local tourists reached 1.3 million with a 36 per cent YoY growth.
The country attracted 19 million hotel guests during 2021 with a growth of more than 29 per cent compared to that of 2020, while hotel establishments achieved revenues of AED 28 billion in 2021 with a 70 per cent growth compared to 2020. More than 75 million hotel nights were booked during 2021, an increase of 42 per cent compared to 2020, while the hotel occupancy rate reached 67 per cent - one of the highest rates achieved by leading tourism destinations in the world.
Furthermore, Expo 2020 Dubai, which is one of the largest international events organized in the Middle East and Africa, also contributed to enhancing global confidence in the UAE tourism sector, after its success in attracting more than 24 million visitors over six months. Besides, the "Dubai Expo City", which is scheduled to open in early October, will serve as a global home for innovation, business, and education, and a major contributor to the sustainability of the historical success of the exhibition.
In terms of FDI in the tourism sector, the UAE ranked first regionally and seventh globally over the past five years, as it was able to attract about 87 new tourism projects, which constituted about 4 per cent of the total projects announced during that period according to international reports. The number of hotel establishments in the country increased during 2021 by 5 per cent compared to 2020 to reach 1,144. During the same period, the number of hotel rooms increased by 8 per cent to reach 194,000 in all emirates of the country.
Over the last five years, UAE acquired 31 per cent of the total tourism FDI in the Middle East and North Africa region, attracting about AED 25 billion through a set of tourism projects that contributed to creating more than 12,900 projects, representing 29 per cent of the market share within the region according to FDI report.
The recovery of the UAE tourism sector will continue during the coming period, especially since the country has extensive and diversified investment plans to increase its contribution to the GDP and attract more than 40 million visitors to hotel establishments.