Complex Made Simple

In which country do visitors spend the most?

It is hardly surprising that Dubai tops the list of tourists spending in 2016. The city attracts millions of tourists every year, due to its world class attractions, ranging from museums to desert trips, seven-star hotels and a wide variety of restaurants, not to forget the world’s tallest structure on the planet Burj Khalifa.

However, one of the main attractions that draw tourists to Dubai is the great number of shopping malls, which makes the city an ideal place for shopping, even when compared with New York, London or other European cities.

MasterCard Destination Cities Index

According to the MasterCard Destination Cities Index, Dubai’s 14.9 million visitors in 2016 spent $28.5 billion, compared to $17.02bn for New York and $16.09bn for London.

While Bangkok was the top destination, drawing 19.41 million visitors in 2016, tourists spent only half the amount ($14.08bn) of what was spent in Dubai.

According to the Index, Bangkok was the top destination, followed by London (19.06 million visitors), Paris (15.45m), Dubai (14.87m), Singapore (13.11m), while New York came in the sixth place, drawing 12.7 million visitors.

Read: Dubai gets highest tourist spend in the world: MasterCard

The Index also showed that tourists’ spending in Dubai is expected to grow by 10.2 percent in 2017, compared to 10.9 percent in Bangkok, while spending in New York is predicted to grow by only 1.5 percent.

It added that Dubai’s visitors were expected to increase by 7.7 percent in 2017.

But what is Dubai’s source of growth?

Mega projects

An analysis by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry revealed that spending within the UAE’s travel and tourism sector was expected to steadily rise over the next five years and reach over $56 billion in 2022, as new mega projects come to market.

Read: 6 important travel and tourism trends in the GCC

It showed that growth within the UAE’s travel market would likely be supported by several recently announced projects, including Marsa Al Arab, a $1.7bn mega tourist resort near the Burj Al Arab, the new IMG Worlds of Legends theme park, a Formula One theme park at Dubai’s Motor City, Six Flags at Dubai Parks and Resorts, in addition to a number of planned shopping malls and cultural venues.

These mega projects fall in line with Dubai’s preparations to host Expo 2020, diversify the Emirate’s mix of leisure and entertainment offerings, and accommodate 20 million visitors in the city by 2020.

Leisure travel

According to the study by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, leisure travel spending amounted to $31.31bn, or 77 per cent of UAE’s total tourism spending in 2016, while business travel accounted for 23 per cent, or $9.13bn.

Leisure travel spending increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 9 per cent since 2011, and business travel spending rose at a CAGR of 10.83 per cent over the same period.

Read: 5 global tourism megatrends impacting the Middle East