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Dubai Tourism: Expo 2020 supports growth

Published Date: 22 November 2021


Dubai’s tourism sector is recovering at a robust pace, supported a very successful start to Expo 2020 that has become a major point of attraction since it’s kick-off, and very effective Covid-19 management that has seen the number of new cases drop below 100 per day. While the global Covid-19 picture remains in flux with several European countries mandating or mulling new lockdowns, the overall picture in the UAE is underpinned by strict inward travel protocols, and high a vaccination rate that is creating a safer backdrop for tourists. Much of the data released reflects a very solid recovery across nearly all metrics of the tourism sector, and we expect the following months to reflect similar stamina, so long as global Covid-19 headwinds remain contained. The resumption of flights to important destinations in Australasia and the overall trend of more relaxed cross border global travel restrictions are tailwinds supporting the recovery.

Hotel occupancy in Dubai surged to 80.7% in October from 67.2% in September and 58.0% in August according to data by STR Global. Revenue per available room (RevPAR) was up 54% m/m in October after rising 10.2% m/m in September and 9.5% in August, marking the third straight m/m rise in RevPAR. The sector is benefiting from a combination of factors lead by Expo 2020, improving Covid-19 metrics, a pick-up in international tourism footfall, and a busy schedule of events and conferences. Those factors are likely to continue to support the tourism market into the first quarter of next year, helping place the market back onto a more normalized footing after the impact of the pandemic on this economically important sector.

The y/y metrics also continue to improve. Hotel occupancy in Dubai was 30.9pp higher y/y in October 2021 while RevPAR was up by 240% y/y. Dynamics in neighbouring Abu Dhabi also improved, with hotel occupancy in the capital up 12.3pp y/y, while RevPAR was up by close to 42% y/y.

According to figures released by Dubai Tourism and Commerce marketing, Dubai received 3.85M visitors from January to September 2021, up by 1.62mn visitors in September alone. The highest number of international guests arrived from India at 528K visitors. Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United States and France respectively comprised the other key source markets for Dubai.

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