Dubai has retained its ranking as the most visited city in the world for the fourth straight year, according to Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI) 2018. The city welcomed 15.79 million overnight visitors last year and with a projected growth rate of 5.5 per cent, the emirate is expected to witness another year of steady expansion in 2018.
Dubai has also topped the list of global cities with the highest international overnight visitor spend for the third year in a row, with total international visitor spending of $29.70 billion in 2017, and average spend of $537 per day. It is joined in the Top 10 with newcomers Makkah, Saudi Arabia, which debuts in the number two spot, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and Phuket, Thailand. Of the most visited cities, Istanbul comes in with the lowest spend per day at just $108 on average.
Abu Dhabi has once again been named the fastest growing city in the Middle East and Africa, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18.21 per cent between 2009 and 2017 in overnight visitor arrivals. The UAE’s capital city is also among the top 10 global cities that experienced the strongest growth in international arrivals in the Mastercard study.
“Reaffirming its standing as a destination of choice for global travelers, Dubai has once again secured top rankings in Mastercard’s annual Global Destinations Cities Index. With its dynamic range of tourism, leisure, lifestyle, hospitality and business offerings, the emirate continues to attract visitors from across the globe. Renowned for global firsts and world records, Dubai has never shied away from evolving, and has transformed itself into one of the world’s most prolific tourism and investment hubs. The index offers research and insights into global spending and travel patterns, helping cities to innovate and improve their offerings and enrich the lives of residents and visitors alike,” said Girish Nanda, General Manager, UAE & Oman, Mastercard. Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM) comments: “The Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index 2018 confirms Dubai’s retained position as the fourth most visited city in the world, cementing the success of joint initiatives we have been working on over the last 12 months in partnership with both government departments and the private sector. With a focus on highlighting the depth of Dubai’s offering, encouraging visitors to look beyond the city’s iconic landmarks, Dubai has continued to be a must-visit and must-return destination.
New attractions and experiences have contributed to this success – from culture and the arts to history and heritage as well as updates to attractions. The retail sector is also further enhancing its offering, presenting visitors with the opportunity to experience an ever-evolving array of shopping districts, activities and offers.” The GDCI, which expanded this year to look at global 162 cities, is more than a ranking of the top travel destinations. Based on visitor volume and spend for the 2017 calendar year, the in-depth analysis also provides a growth forecast for 2018 and—for the first time—a view into average length of stay and amount spent per day.