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Dubai welcomed 14.36 million international travelers in 2022

This exceptional increase in visitors has allowed Dubai to surpass global and regional tourism recovery levels.

Flydubai began offering direct flights from Dubai to Krabi and Pattaya in Thailand

According to Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), the city saw a 97% year-over-year increase in international overnight visitors, totaling 14.36 million in 2022 compared to 7.28 million in 2021.

This exceptional increase in visitors has allowed Dubai to surpass global and regional tourism recovery levels in 2022.

Tourism growth in Dubai in 2022

Tourism to Dubai in 2022 reached 86% of pre-pandemic levels, outpacing global recovery at 63% and regional recovery in the Middle East at 83%. The city also experienced one of the highest average hotel occupancy rates globally at 73%.

The streets of Dubai, UAE
The streets of Dubai, UAE. Photo by Shreyas Gupta

This growth in tourism helped Dubai surpass global and regional levels of recovery, supporting Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s goal, as Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to establish Dubai as one of the top three cities globally for both travel and business through the launch of Dubai Economic Agenda D33.

According to the latest data from the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), global tourist travel in 2022 was down 37% compared to 2019. The Middle East showed the highest relative growth, with tourist arrivals reaching 83% of pre-Covid numbers. Dubai outperformed both the global and regional recovery benchmarks, with visitor levels in 2022 reaching 86% of pre-pandemic numbers.

Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum added: “Dubai’s ability to rapidly accelerate tourism growth, which has marked it out as a clear frontrunner in the international industry, demonstrates the far-reaching vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to transform the Emirate into an important global player in shaping the future of vital sectors. The remarkable rise in international visitation in 2022 supports the ambitious goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to double the size of the emirate’s economy by 2033. The tourism and travel sector contributes significantly to the leadership’s aim of making the emirate a model for excellence in the global economy.”


Dubai’s hotel industry, which is vital to the city’s appeal as a destination and the growth of the tourism industry, maintained strong performance across all hospitality indicators. The average occupancy in the hotel sector in 2022 was 73%, among the highest globally, up from 67% in 2021.

This rate was close to the 75% occupancy before the pandemic in 2019, and all the more impressive given the 16% increase in room supply in 2022 compared to 2019.

Innovative strategies

Innovation and strategy fueled growth and recovery: Dubai’s success in 2022 was driven in part by engaging global campaigns in collaboration with regional and international celebrities, influencers, and community leaders that showcased the city’s unique appeal and highlighted its diverse experiences.

The “Dubai Presents” campaign, for example, used a stylish movie-style approach to create captivating content featuring Hollywood stars like Jessica Alba and Zac Efron. Another campaign, “Where the World Celebrates,” coincided with the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and featured French football star Karim Benzema.

Events organized in Dubai

Expo 2020 Dubai, one of the biggest events of the region in 2022, was also a significant contributor to the outstanding performance of the tourism industry. The six-month event attracted over 24 million visits and reinforced Dubai’s position as an international events destination, demonstrating its ability to host major global events.

Dubai hosted numerous global business and leisure events in 2022, including Gulfood, the World Government Summit, Binance Blockchain Week, Gitex Global Dubai, the International Boat Show, and the Arabian Travel Market. As part of its annual Retail Calendar, Dubai also organized major festivals and events such as the Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Food Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises, and Dubai Fitness Challenge.

In 2022, Dubai Festival and Retail Establishment (DFRE) launched the first Dubai Esports Festival, the largest international esports tournament in the region. Dubai, being a leading sports tourism destination, hosted an array of global sports tournaments and events annually, attracting top athletes and fans from all over the world.

In 2022, the city’s sports calendar included events like the Dubai World Cup horse race, Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championship, Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7s, Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament, and DP World Tour championship, among others. Dubai ensured that residents and visiting fans could enjoy the FIFA World Cup 2022 at popular spots in the city. Cruise and yacht tourism also played a crucial role in attracting international tourists and solidifying Dubai’s position as a leading travel hub in 2022.

New attractions in Dubai

Also in 2022, Dubai debuted several new attractions and programs that enhance its offerings as a destination. The Museum of the Future, a new iconic landmark, was opened, offering a glimpse into a futuristic world.

The city’s progress towards becoming the city of the future is being facilitated by the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, which aims to double its tourism offering. Furthermore, Dubai is aligning its efforts with the UAE 2031 Tourism Strategy, which aims to attract 40 million visitors and boost the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP to AED450 billion.

Dubai is also implementing various measures to promote the growth of the tourism industry, including streamlined entry procedures, such as the 60-day tourist visa available from September 2022, the Five-Year Multi-Entry Visa for multinational employees, and programs like the Golden Visa, Virtual Working, and Retire in Dubai.

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