Sharjah 24 – WAM: The tourism sector in the United Arab Emirates has witnessed a wave of recovery and growth since the beginning of the current year, highlighted by high-performance indicators in all aspects of the sector. This bodes well for an exceptional tourist season, especially with a busy agenda of global events and major activities hosted by the country in the upcoming period.
The launch of the fourth edition of the “World’s Coolest Winter” campaign dominated the tourism scene in the country this week, which also saw significant achievements in the hotel and national transport sectors, reflecting their global excellence and leadership.
World’s Coolest Winter
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, launched the fourth edition of the “World’s Coolest Winter” campaign. He stated, “The national tourism sector witnesses an annual growth. Our goal is to increase the sector’s contribution to GPD to reach AED450 billion by 2031.”
This year’s campaign, under the theme “Unforgettable Stories”, highlights the key attractions in each emirate of the country. It provides full support to all visitors with diverse programmes and a calendar filled with events, reflecting the diversity of the UAE’s environment, its tourism appeal, and its unique social and cultural identity.
The UAE’s tourism sector achieved positive performance indicators, with hotel revenues in the country reaching AED32.2 billion during the period from January to September 2023, showing a growth rate of 27 percent compared to the same period in 2022. The number of hotel guests during the same period reached 20.2 million, marking a 12 percent growth compared to the same period in 2022. The hotel occupancy rate also reached 75 percent during the first 9 months of the past year, with a 6 percent growth compared to the same period in 2022.
Dubai was crowned the top global destination in the 2024 Travelers’ Choice Awards by “TripAdvisor”, the world’s largest travel platform, for the third consecutive year. This is the first time the city has achieved this significant accomplishment.
The winners of these awards are selected in a unique way, where millions of travelers from around the world provide their independent reviews and opinions on various destinations, activities, and experiences offered.
During the past year, Emirates Airlines operated more than 164,400 flights to around 150 destinations, constituting 20 percent of the total number of flights operated by airlines in the Middle East and Africa, reaching 819,150 flights.
The company ranked among the top 10 airlines in terms of punctuality in the Middle East and Africa last year, according to the monthly report issued by “Cirium”, a specialised institution in airline and airport data.
On the other hand, Etihad Airways is launching new destinations in 2024, including Boston, becoming its fourth station in the United States, with 4 weekly flights starting from March 31. Additionally, it will commence flights to the Kenyan capital Nairobi on May 1.
The airline also added two new destinations in the Indian subcontinent since the beginning of the new year: Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram in the Kerala region of India. This brings the total number of stations in India to 10. Etihad Airways plans to increase the number of flights to destinations such as Cairo, with a weekly total of 21 flights, Colombo with 7 flights, Islamabad with 14 flights, and the Maldives with 14 flights.
Meanwhile, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi expects to achieve a 30 percent growth in the number of passengers and operational capacity for the year 2024, aiming to transport around 4 million passengers. This follows an exceptional performance last year, with a record growth of over 135 percent in both the number of passengers and operational capacity, reaching 3 million passengers.
1.22 million visitors
The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) announced that the year 2023 was the best to date for tourism in the emirate, recording 1.22 million visitors. This is its highest number of visitors, representing an 8 percent increase from 2022, along with a significant annual rise of 24 percent in the number of international tourists.
The authority added that the increase in the number of international visitors was supported by over 2,200 activities on an international level, such as promotional offers, trade exhibitions, and media events.
In Dubai, 4th Accessible Travel and Tourism International Conference focused on ways to make cities more inclusive and integrated for people with disabilities. The UAE aims to become the most accessible tourist destination, implementing effective strategic initiatives to enhance the country’s achievements in the field of accessible tourism.
The number of travelers with disabilities is estimated to be around 1.3 billion, accounting for approximately 1.3 billion people worldwide, in addition to the elderly, whose number is estimated at around 800 million individuals aged over sixty.
Events and Festivals
The current week witnessed a series of events and festivals that attracted participants and visitors from both within and outside the country. Among the highlights is the Sheikh Zayed Festival in Al Wathba, where its heritage, cultural, and entertainment activities continue amidst a noticeable attendance of the public. Additionally, the 29th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival, which concludes its events the day after tomorrow, and the Dubai Crown Prince Camel Racing Festival 2024 held at the Marmoom Racetrack, organised by the Dubai Camel Racing Club. Furthermore, the second edition of the 1 Billion Followers Summit 2024 took place in Dubai, with the participation of 7,000 guests.