02 Aug 2022
UAE tourism excellence: Sustainable policies that led to international & regional leadership
The UAE continues to maintain its regional and global leadership as an exceptional tourism destination and the best place to live and work in. In line with its wise leadership’s directives, the country’s tourism sector has showcased an excellent performance, confirming post-pandemic recovery and ushering in a new phase of prosperity and growth.
The continuous efforts to develop the national tourism sector have cemented the UAE’s position on the global tourism landscape. Today, it has become one of the key international destinations for tourism, ranking among the top 10 destinations globally in various global competitiveness indexes for tourism, travel, and hotel industry in 2021.
A giant leap forward in tourism index
In Q1 2022, the UAE’s hotels welcomed nearly six million visitors who spent 25 million nights, resulting in a 10 per cent growth compared to 2019 and beating the pre-pandemic growth rates. The average duration of the guest stays in hotels saw a 25 per cent growth during the same period, accounting for four nights instead of three. During this period, the occupancy rate of hotel facilities in the country reached 80 per cent - one of the highest in the world.
Furthermore, hotels achieved a total of AED 11 billion in revenue in Q1 2022, leading to a 20 per cent growth compared to 2019, with these facilities going back to operate at their maximum capacities with 200,000 hotel rooms.
With regards to flights and hospitality, the number of travelers who passed through the UAE’s airports exceeded 20 million in Q1 2022 as compared to 8.6 million travelers in 2021, reflecting a whopping 135 per cent growth. During the first three months of 2022, the total of transit passengers through the airports reached 7 million, accounting for a 203 per cent spike compared to the same period last year.
Tourism and travel contributed to a 3.4 per cent growth in GDP during the last 3 years totaling 15 per cent, as compared to 11.6 per cent in 2019.
These results indeed reflect the increasing trust in the national tourism sector and the impeccable reputation achieved by the UAE’s tourism environment in terms of both domestic tourism and international tourists and visitors. They also confirm the effectiveness of the sustainable tourism policies adopted by the UAE, and the success of the initiatives, campaigns, and exhibitions which have continuously supported and enhanced the tourism sector, not to forget the future-readiness of the national tourism product and the country’s leading services, unique attractions, and advanced tourism infrastructure.
National tourism development strategy
The Ministry of Economy has worked alongside its partners to develop a comprehensive national strategy to enhance tourism performance and consolidate the UAE’s position as a sustainable tourism destination. These partners include local tourism development agencies and departments and the concerned authorities in the tourism sector at the local and federal levels, in addition to the private sector and international tourism agencies and organizations. These efforts were centered around future foresight, innovation, and technology integration in the national tourism sector to ensure proper introduction of tourism destinations, development of the UAE tourism product, and attract FDI to this sector.
Domestic tourism strategy
The domestic tourism strategy is a continuation of the UAE’s national tourism development strategy as it plays an important role in increasing tourism investments and revenues, which in turn contributes to enhancing the growth of the tourism sector. The total spending on domestic tourism in 2020 amounted to 33%, while foreign tourism spending amounted to 67%, compared to 22% on domestic and 78% on international in 2019.
One of the main aspects of the UAE’s domestic tourism strategy launched in 2020 is the promotion of the most important natural, cultural, heritage, and historical attractions in the country, in addition to developing the tourism product. It highlights the beauty and uniqueness of the tourism experience offered by each of the emirates, and highlights entertainment events and cultural and social activities to increase each emirate’s tourism attractiveness.
The World's Coolest Winter campaign
The implementation of the UAE’s domestic tourism strategy encompassed the launch of various programs and initiatives. The World’s Coolest Winter campaign is the most notable among them, as it achieved resounding success across all emirates and went on to become the biggest campaign of its kind to highlight the many diverse domestic tourism offerings all over the country. The second edition of the campaign, which ran from mid-December 2021 until the end of January 2022, generated AED 1.5 billion in revenues and attracted over 1.3 million local tourists over 45 days.
The campaign contributed to highlighting environmental and sustainable tourism efforts by the country and enabled visitors from all emirates to enjoy the natural sites, such as reserves, oases, mountains, beaches, and islands that celebrate biodiversity. Desert tourism, which includes safaris, sand boarding, and search for oases hidden in the depths of the deserts among giant sand dunes, also became most sought after by the country’s citizens and residents alike. Also popular were beach tourism that offers several beach and water sports and free-diving, and mountain tourism which includes hiking among the mountains and valleys, mountain biking, and rock climbing.
Unified national tourism identity
As part of the UAE’s efforts to advance economic diversification over the next 50 and further enhance the tourism product, the country launched its unified tourism identity. This identity is an extension of the country’s visual media identity and consolidates the image and position of the UAE in the eyes of the global audiences. Moreover, it unites efforts and energies to celebrate the UAE’s success story and conveys it to the world by highlighting its unique features and advantages and its position as a hub in various fields.
Expo 2020 Dubai
The hosting of Expo 2020 Dubai is one of the UAE’s most significant initiatives that contributed directly to supplying the tourism sector with record numbers of tourists and revenues. The global event once again highlighted the leadership of the UAE’s travel, hotel, hospitality and entertainment sectors and their sustainable potential for growth. The expo succeeded in attracting more than 24 million visitors over six months.
Legacy of the world expo boosts MICE tourism and future technologies
Building on the legacy of Expo 2020 and through the entrepreneurial projects that will be implemented in the Expo City Dubai, the UAE is set to host a new world-class destination for residence, business, education, innovation, and the latest model for future cities, scheduled to open in October 2022. This will contribute to elevating the national tourism environment to a new level, especially MICE tourism and tourism related to future technologies that the UAE continues to embrace and develop.
Museum of the Future
The UAE has always firmly believed in the consistency of creativity, development and innovation. In February this year, a unique milestone was achieved in the development of the country’s tourism destinations portfolio, upgrading its quality and consolidating the position and image of the UAE as a destination of the future. The Museum of the Future represents a historic icon without columns, and offers a fusion of theaters and advanced technology laboratories. The museum has been called the most beautiful building on earth because of its unique shape and extraordinary design elements.
The museum carries the slogan ‘Climate and Education,’ which refers to building a future of progress and prosperity. It supports local and global efforts in combating the repercussions of climate change and promoting sustainability. The museum also reflects the extreme accuracy of advanced technologies and advancements in artificial intelligence.
Development of eco-tourism destinations
The UAE has undertaken some massive tourism projects to promote tourism development in the natural and outstanding destinations in the country. Examples include Hatta, Khorfakkan and Jebel Jais, in addition to many other eco-tourism projects across the country that further enhance the UAE's position on the map of global, adventure and recreation tourism.