Dubai Tourism and Transport Sector Update

Published Date: 25 April 2017



Q1 2017 Dubai tourism and transport update

  • Passenger traffic at the Dubai International Airport (DXB) rose to 22.5 million in Q1 2017, up by 7.4% y/y. In March alone, 7.5mn passengers passed through DXB, up by 3.8% y/y. Passenger traffic is expected to exceed 89 million at DXB by the end of 2017, according to Dubai Airports. Separately, freight volumes at DXB also increased by 16.7% y/y in March 2017 to 253,503 tons. Year to date volumes totaled 654,478 tons, up by 6.4% over Q1 2016.
  • Eastern Europe was the fastest growing region in Q1 2017, up by 33.3% y/y, followed by Asia (22.6% y/y) and South America (22.2% y/y). The overall increase in passenger numbers is attributed to DXB’s additional capacity provided by Emirates and Flydubai in markets such as Thailand, China and the Philippines. Conversely, the impact of travel bans and electronic device restrictions is starting to be felt with North American traffic figures down by -4.3% y/y in March 2017. India remained DXB’s biggest market in Q1 2017 with a total of 3mn passengers. UK ranked second with 1.62mn passengers marginally overtaking Saudi Arabia with 1.57mn, and Pakistan with 1.17mn passengers. London topped the list of destination cities, followed by Doha, Bangkok and Mumbai. 
  • The number of tourists coming to Dubai and staying in hotels including holiday rentals and onboard cruise ships for at least one night reached 4.57mn in Q1 2017, up by 11.2% compared with the same period last year. Western Europe was the lead tourist region for Q1, accounting for 22% of the total figure, followed by the GCC (19%) and South Asia (17%). In terms of country specific volumes, India remained Dubai’s top source market with 578,000 tourists, an increase of 23.8% y/y. Saudi Arabia ranked second with 440,000 tourists (-7.6% y/y) followed by UK with 350,000 tourists (4.8%), outpacing China with 230,000 tourists (64.3% y/y) and Oman with 214,000 tourists  (-33.5% y/y). 
  • Separately, the number of Russian tourists recorded the highest monthly figure in DTCM’s history in March with 61,000 tourists, making this the fastest growing segment by nationality. For Q1 2017, the number of Russian tourists more than doubled (106.6% y/y) to 126,000 tourists with both the easing of visa rules and the RUB/USD appreciation likely contributed to the recovery in the number of visitors from Russia since H2 2016.
  • Easing of visa rules for Chinese nationals at the end of 2016 also helped to boost demand from this segment of the market. Indeed the number of Chinese visitors to Dubai grew 64.3% y/y in Q1 2017 to 230,000 tourists, making this the second fastest growing segment by nationality. In March alone, the number of Chinese tourists increased to 73,000, up by 73.8% compared with the same month last year. 

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