Dubai’s tourism agency reported 14.2 million overnight visitors last year with India as its largest source market for the first time.
About 1.6 million people visited Dubai from India last year, a 26 per cent year-on-year increase, despite currency fluctuations and a slowdown in the global economy.
Overall, tourist numbers rose 7.5 per cent compared to 2014 – a faster rate than the global average.
3.3 million tourists from GCC
A total of 3.3 million tourists from the GCC visited Dubai, up 12.8 per cent over 2014, with Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar as the top source markets.
About 3 million people travelled from western Europe to Dubai, up 6.1 per cent, with the UK, Germany and northern European countries growth markets.
Approximately 2.3 million tourists visited from South Asia, a 21.7 per cent increase over the previous year. Pakistan was the second-fastest growth market after India in this region at 11 per cent with 513,000 visitors.
About 1.6 million visitors came from the Middle East and North Africa region, representing a growth of 1.3 per cent.
New method of collecting data
In May, the agency altered its method of collecting tourism data to include tourists staying at holiday rentals with family and friends and those from cruise ships.
As per the new method, 13.2 million tourists visited Dubai in 2014. Previously, the data showed only hotel guests.
To achieve 20 million visitors in 2020, the number of tourists needs to grow at a rate of 7 to 8 per cent annually.
According to media reports, Dubai came fourth in the table of most-visited cities in the world last year.