Dubai expects to welcome over 5.5mn foreign visitors in 2021

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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As the global economy sets to recover from the pandemic crisis, Dubai is expecting to attract more than 5.5 million foreign visitors this year.

The emirate is hoping that the new markets will support to make up for the loss of visitors from key places where travel is restricted. Last year, Dubai welcomed 5.5 million overseas visitors, when the tourism sector was thrashed by the pandemic, though it is lower than 16.7 million tourists in 2019.

Dubai’s traditional top source market, visitors from India are largely banned from entering UAE due to the latest outbreak in the South Asian nation. Meanwhile, the UK, Dubai’s third-biggest source market in 2019, has barred direct flights and requires travelers from the UAE to hotel quarantine.

However, Dubai Tourism Chief Executive Issam Kazim said, visitor numbers from newer markets in Europe, Africa and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) were performing well.

“All of these markets will start to add up and hopefully fill the gaps and give us a much stronger foundation to build a confident rebound going forward,” Mr. Kazim said at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai

Dubai reopened its borders to international visitors last July and was a popular holiday spot over the New Year as many other global destinations were shut off due to the pandemic. But with the second wave of coronavirus infections across the UAE, the influx of foreign tourists fell as the emirate tightened capacity restrictions on hotels and restaurants. Many of those restrictions were eased this week.

The Middle East city is also expecting Expo 2020, which runs from October to March after being delayed by the pandemic last year, to be a draw for many tourists who have never visited before.

Expo organizers said before the coronavirus outbreak the event could attract 11 million foreign visitors, but Mr. Kazim said that the pandemic now made it difficult to predict numbers.

In the UAE’s north, the Ras Al Khaimah emirate expects 915,000 visitors this year, a 14 percent increase in 2020 but still down from 1.1 million in 2019. “I am cautiously optimistic that we will probably do better than that the way things are traveling but there is so much uncertainty,” the CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, Raki Phillips, said.

Related: Etihad to celebrate UAE’s 50th anniversary with 10,000 prizes at ATM


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