Dubai reported a 25 per cent increase in guest arrivals from China in the first six months of 2015 compared to same period last year.
The city received 241,000 Chinese tourists in the first of the year as Dubai beefed up efforts to increase the inflow of tourists from the East Asian country.
“China is a very important inbound market for Dubai, and the emirate is making big efforts to attract more Chinese visitors,” said Issam Kazim, chief executive of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM).
Dubai has organised several events and study trips to China to tap the source market there. To promote the emirate’s tourism, the official tourism body DCTCM runs four offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdou.
“We have seen 25 per cent growth in the first half of the year, which is very significant. We are definitely on the right path now. So we are taking all the measures to make sure that Dubai’s accessibility and offering appeal to a mass audience to see the growth continue,” says Issam.
Interestingly, though the arrivals of the Chinese travellers rose, their spending witnessed a decline.
According to a study by payment solutions provider Network International, Chinese tourists’ spending accounted for four per cent of the total spend in the UAE in the first quarter of the year. Despite coming in the top five, the report which is based on credit or debit card transactions shows, the Chinese spend was down by seven per cent from the same period last year.
However, overall tourist spending in the country rose by five per cent in the Q1 compared to the same period in 2014.
The city welcomed 13.2 million international overnight travellers in 2014 with Western Europe and GCC topping the list of source markets. While Saudi Arabia came first in the list of countries that sent visitors to Dubai last year with a share of 10 per cent of the total footfalls to the city, India ranked second followed by the UK, Oman and USA.
The Russian Rouble crisis has had a major impact on spending by Russian tourists which dropped by 52 per cent in the first quarter of 2015, taking the country out of the top five spenders for the first time in recent history, reveals the Network International report.
When asked, Issam said the economic slowdown and the recent devaluation of the Chinese yuan against the US dollar had no immediate impact on the arrival of the Chinese tourists to Dubai.
The authorities expect the number of guests will rise to 20m tourists by 2020.
Issam admitted that the economic slowdown in Russia had an impact on Dubai’s tourism. However, he says, it was not significant.
“Russia has been important to us historically. So we will make sure we are accessible to the Russian market always so that they will come back. The dip that we saw might be significant if we isolate it alone but if we see the overall numbers it has not been significant at all. The growth from the other markets such as China has bridged that gap,” he says.
Meanwhile, the latest figures by the Dubai Health Authority show that the city received 118,000 medical tourists in the first quarter this year.
Of the total domestic and inbound patients 46 per cent of were from Asian countries, GCC and Arab countries accounted for 25 per cent while 13 per cent came from African countries and the remaining 16 per cent were from other countries of the world; mainly UK and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) nations.