Dubai ranked among world’s Top 10 tourist destinations for 2011

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About 8m inbound tourists will spend $7.8b in the emirate in 2011, predicts a MasterCard study
About 8 million international tourists will visit Dubai in 2011, ranking the emirate at No. 9 in terms of visitor arrivals out of 132 cities across the world, according to a new research released yesterday by MasterCard.

The global payment giant’s new index of Global Destination Cities reckons Dubai will receive 7.9m inbound passengers this year, ahead of other global tourist hotspots such as New York (7.6m), Amsterdam (7.4m) and Kuala Lumpur (6.9m).

The report predicts Dubai’s visitor arrivals would grow by 17.3 per cent this year – sixth best growth rate among the global Top 20 – and that the visitors would collectively spend $7.8 billion in the emirate, which works out to an average spend of more than Dh3,600 per visitor.

Interestingly and contrary to popular perception that Dubai receives most visitors from the Indian subcontinent, the MasterCard report lists London as the most important city of origin for the emirate both by visitor arrivals and visitor expenditures. In 2011, the report estimates that close to a million visitors (926,000) will land in Dubai from London, and spend $876m in the emirate.

Following London as a key source market is Kuwait, with 343,000 visitors reckoned to arrive from there and expected to spend $373m in Dubai in 2011. While there is no surprise that visitors from London and Kuwait are both the biggest in number and the highest in their expenditures in Dubai, it is interesting to note that Beijing now ranks third in both number of visitors to Dubai and how much they spend here.

Tourists to Dubai from Beijing will number 300,000 and are expected to spend $334 million in the emirate in 2011, according to the MasterCard study. This makes the Chinese tourists the most lucrative for Dubai, with per capita spend by Chinese tourists the highest at Dh4,092 per tourist compared with Dh3,477 per average British tourist and Dh3,996 spent by every Kuwaiti tourist.

Frankfurt and Paris are among the other top 5 source markets for Dubai, with 278,000 and 262,000 visitors expected to spend $245m and $221m, respectively, or an average per capita spend of Dh3,239 and Dh3,100, respectively .

Overall, visitor expenditure in the emirate is reckoned to increase by almost a quarter (24 per cent) this year, ranking Dubai third in terms of growth rates of visitor expenditure among the top 20 destination cities, behind Istanbul (30.1 per cent growth in visitor expenditure) and Barcelona (28.2 per cent), and ahead of key Asian destination cities of Singapore and Hong Kong, which are expected to grow by 23.9 and 23.6 per cent, respectively.

In the Middle East and Africa, Dubai is ranked first among 21 cities from the region, and is the only destination city from the region that is in the world’s top 20 by visitor arrivals. Regionally, Dubai is followed by Cairo (3.7m arrivals) and Johannesburg (3m), in second and third ranks, respectively.

However, research for the study may have been done before the recent geopolitical disturbances in some of the region’s countries, and MasterCard acknowledges that “estimates for Cairo and Tunis will need to be reassessed due to the events unfolding there.”

With a growth rate of 15.5 per cent and 2m expected visitors in 2011, Abu Dhabi is ranked No. 6 regionally, and visitors will spend an estimated $2b in the UAE’s capital, 21.8 per cent more than what they spent in 2010. Regionally, Abu Dhabi is followed by Nairobi and Amman (1.8m each), and Beirut and Tunis (1.7m each).

Overall, European cities dominate the global rankings with 10 out of the top 20 destinations, and with London (20.1m visitors) and Paris (18.1m) in first and second position, respectively. Asia-Pacific follows next in terms of the Top 20 domination, with Bangkok (11.5m), Singapore (11.4m) and Hong Kong (10.9m) rounding up the Top 5 globally. In fact, cities in Asia-Pacific account for eight of the top 20 global destinations.

By contrast, MasterCard predicts that only one US city will be among the world’s most visited this year, with New York taking 12th place and predicted to welcome 7.6m inbound passengers.

The Big Apple can perhaps take consolation that visitors will spend $20.3b there this year, more than every other city save London, which will see cross-border expenditures of $25.6b.

Global top 10 destination cities by international visitors (2011)
Rank City No. of tourists

1 London 20.1m         

2 Paris  18.1m         

3 Bangkok 11.5m         

4 Singapore 11.4m         

5 Hong Kong 10.9m        

6 Madrid 10.1m        

7 Istanbul 9.4m         

8 Frankfurt 8.4m         

9 Dubai 7.9m         

10 Rome 7.9m         

11 Seoul 7.9m

12 New York 7.6m

13 Amsterdam 7.4m

14 Kuala Lumpur 6.9m

15 Milan 6.7m

16 Barcelona 6.7m

17 Vienna 6.2m

18 Shanghai 5.5m

19  Taipei  5.4m

20   Tokyo 5.0m

© Emirates 24|7 2011