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Chinese visitors to Dubai seen surging

By HE QI in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-25 09:15

A view of Bruj Dubai. [Photo/VCG]

There has been a significant surge in Chinese tourists to Dubai, the city's Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) said during a roadshow in Shanghai last week.

According to Saud Hareb Al Mheiri, assistant manager of DET, the city welcomed 620,000 overnight visitors from China in 2023, and in the first four months of 2024, almost 290,000 overnight visitors arrived, a 101 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

"China has been one of the top source markets for Dubai's tourism sector," Al Mheiri said during the Shanghai leg of the DET Chinese mainland roadshow. "We are highly optimistic that this year's visitor numbers will surpass last year's figures."

The United Arab Emirates started granting visas on arrival to Chinese visitors in 2016. In 2017, over 764,000 Chinese tourists visited the UAE, representing a 41 percent increase year-on-year.

Qiu Weining, senior manager of international operations at the DET, highlighted Dubai's tourism achievements, noting that the city experienced its peak year in 2019 with 16.7 million international tourists. The number surged to 17.1 million in 2023.

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, China was Dubai's fifth-largest tourist source market. After China's reopening of its borders, Dubai continued to implement a visa-free policy and other convenient measures to attract more Chinese tourists.

The roadshow, which was held in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Guangzhou from June 17 to Monday, is a strategic effort to promote Dubai's tourism development, and attracted 22 travel industry suppliers from Dubai, including airlines, hotels, attractions, shopping malls and destination management companies.

"The DET has long recognized the significance of the Chinese outbound tourism market, and the strong affinity visitors from China have already shown toward Dubai, making it a major contributor to our continued growth. We are committed to engaging with tourism professionals in China, and hosting roadshows like these is a critical part of our strategic approach to showcase Dubai's diverse destination offering," said Al Mheiri.

"We are deeply passionate about sharing our love for the city, showcasing the best of what it has to offer, and encouraging more and more Chinese visitors to experience the same affection that we hold for it," he added.

Looking ahead, the DET has launched the "China Ready" strategy, continually refining measures to meet the needs of Chinese tourists.

With direct flights now available from 14 Chinese cities and widespread acceptance of Alipay and WeChat in Dubai, the city is well-prepared to accommodate Chinese visitors seamlessly.

"Recently, Alipay has been rolled out for tax refunds in Dubai, a service already available via WeChat, and both platforms are also accepted on transportation services such as metros and taxis," said Qiu.

To enhance engagement with Chinese consumers, the DET is intensifying in-market marketing campaigns, deepening collaborations with social platforms such as Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) and Douyin, and partnering with podcast platforms like Xiaoyuzhou and Ximalaya, he said.

"Several attractions are also waiting for tourists to experience and explore, especially Inside Burj Al Arab, Arte Museum in Dubai Mall, China Town in Dubai Mall, and Real Madrid World," Qiu said.

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