Dubai sees number of visitors surge by 7.5% in 2015
DUBAI - More than 14.2 million people visited Dubai in 2015, up 7.5 percent from the previous year, with Indians, Saudis and Britons topping the list.
The rise came despite slowing economic growth in many markets and a strong exchange rate of the Gulf state's dollar-pegged dirham against the euro and other currencies, Dubai Tourism authority said.
"2015 was volatile for travel globally, as we have all witnessed a range of disruptive factors, ranging from slackening economic growth in Asian and European markets to currency fluctuations across the world," said Dubai Tourism chief Saeed Almarri in a statement.
The Gulf city-state, one of seven sheikhdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates, attracted more than 13 million visitors in 2014. It aims to attract 20 million visitors annually in five years.
Visitors from Gulf countries represented the largest regional group at 3.3 million, up 12.8 percent, with Saudis alone numbering 1.54 million.
Turmoil in most of the traditional tourism destinations across the Middle East appears to have helped Dubai capitalise on its reputation as a safe haven for tourists and businesses.
The number of Indian visitors came at the top for the first time after surging by 26 percent to 1.6 million, while Britons rose 11 percent to 1.2 million.
"Western Europe remained the second highest regional contributor to visitor volumes, bringing in nearly three million tourists, reflecting a solid 6.1 percent growth in numbers," Dubai Tourism said.
Growth in several markets "helped offset negative trends" from Russia and eastern Europe, which saw a 22.5 percent decline in travellers to Dubai.