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Dubai gets highest tourist spend in the world: MasterCard

Dubai was the top destination city in the Middle East and Africa for the year 2016, according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index 2017.

Dubai ranked top on the list of countries attracting overnight international visitors in the MEA region with 14.87 million visitors in 2016 up from 14.2m visitors in 2015, according to the index.

The index shows that Dubai registered a record in terms of visitors in 2016 compared to the rest of the countries in the region. “Dubai was followed by Johannesburg with only 4.57m visitors,” the Index noted.

The emirate is expected to attract 16m visitors in 2017, according to the index.

Dubai attracts highest tourism spending

Moreover, Dubai attracts the highest tourist spend in the world, surpassing even New York and London.

The MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index 2017 ranked Dubai as the city with the highest international overnight visitor spend in the world – a stunning $28.50 billion in 2016.

According to the index, tourists in Dubai spent more than visitors to New York ($17.02bn) and London ($16.09bn) in 2016.

Tourism’s contribution to UAE economy

A report by the World Travel and Tourism Council, titled Economic Impact 2017, states that travel and tourism are great contributors to Dubai’s economy.

“The direct contribution of travel and tourism to Dubai’s GDP in 2016 was AED68.5bn (5.2 percent of GDP). This is forecast to rise by 3.2 per cent to AED70.7bn in 2017,” it said.

The report said that this primarily reflects the economic activity generated by industries such as hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services. It also includes the activities of the restaurant and leisure industries directly supported by tourists.


On the other hand, the index said that London tops the list of destinations in Europe, attracting 19.06m visitors in 2016, up from 18.58m in 2015.

According to the index, London was followed by Paris (15.45m visitors), Istanbul (9.16m visitors), Barcelona (8.36m visitors), Amsterdam (8.36m visitors) and Milan (8.17m visitors).


Bangkok, according to the Index, was the most popular city in the world for international travelers in 2016. The city is projected to welcome nearly 20.2m international overnight visitors this year, according to the index.

 Statistics by MasterCard

 MasterCard reported that since 2009, more than half of the top destination cities reported an increase in spending by overnight visitors, consistent with or greater than GDP growth.

 Globally, it added, international overnight visitor arrivals across all 132 destinations have grown by 55.2 percent since 2009, significantly outpacing real GDP growth during the same period.

 The MasterCard Index ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities.