UAE hotels hosted 19 million visitors in 2021, witnessing growth of more than 29 per cent
The Emirates Tourism Council – which met under the chairmanship of H.E. Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises – reviewed the national plans to develop a tourism data system in accordance with global best practices and promote tourism in foreign markets to increase the footfall of visitors in the UAE. The first Council meeting in 2022 – which was attended by the membership of heads, directors of all local tourism departments and entities in the UAE – also reviewed the performance of the tourism sector and hotel establishments in the country in 2021 and the growth rates achieved in several tourism indicators.
Al Falasi asserted that the tourism sector in the UAE continues to achieve outstanding results due to the vision and directives of the wise leadership and the concerted national efforts to develop the country’s tourism environment by providing integrated tourism products and services that enhance UAE’s position as a preferred and sustainable tourist destination for tourists from within the country and around the world.
According to the data, hotel establishments in the country hosted 19 million guests in 2021, with a growth of more than 29 per cent compared to the number of guests in 2020. Domestic tourism accounted for 58 per cent of the total number of guests last year in the UAE. Hotel establishments last year generated revenues of AED 28 billion, witnessing a growth of up to 70 per cent compared to 2020.
Over the past year, more than 75 million hotel nights have been booked, up 42 per cent compared to 2020, while the hotel occupancy rate reached 67 per cent, which is the highest rate ever achieved in leading tourist destinations worldwide. The number of hotel establishments in the UAE increased by 5 per cent in 2021 to 1144 establishments, as compared to 2020. During the same period, the number of hotel rooms increased by 8 per cent to 194,000 rooms across the UAE.
His Excellency stated that these positive results demonstrate the efficiency of the policies adopted by the UAE to support and develop the national tourism sector and that many of these indicators are approaching pre-pandemic growth rates. “This shows a full recovery of the national tourism sector and confirms the positive direction it is increasingly achieving,” he said, adding that these results are the product of the concerted government efforts and the efficiency of the private tourism sector to provide an attractive and secure national tourist environment, leading and integrated tourism services, diverse and unique destinations, and advanced tourism infrastructure.
Al Falasi also noted the importance of major events and initiatives organized by the UAE during the past phase in achieving these results and providing national tourism with great developmental potential. “Expo 2020 Dubai attracted more than 24 million visitors in 6 months, and the second edition of the ‘most beautiful winter in the world’ campaign, which generated revenues of AED 1.5 billion, attracted more than 1.3 million domestic tourists in just one and a half months,” he said.
In addition, the Council showcased the efforts of the stakeholders in the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), which is one of the strategic projects for tourism development in the UAE, comprising more than 15 federal and local government entities. It aims at developing a national integrated statistics organization, which will contribute to the enhancement of transparency, the development of human systems and equal technology to support the decision-making process in the country. The UAE has also signed a partnership and coordination agreement with the United Nations World Tourism Organization to support the development of this statistics system, as the organization will provide technical and knowledge support in this area. Moreover, the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) will contribute to increasing the efficiency of the country’s tourism statistics system by measuring the economic indicators of the tourism sector and its contribution to the national economy and the labor market.
His Excellency the Chairman of the Council reiterated the importance of all relevant stakeholders working in synergy to support the Satellite Account project and provide the technical infrastructure and human resources necessary for its development. “It is an important step to achieve a shift in the field of tourism data, helping to provide a comprehensive and reliable knowledge base that promotes decision-making and future policy making regarding tourism development in the country,” he added.
Furthermore, the Council was briefed on Member States’ plans for external promotion. Al Falasi reiterated the importance of concerted efforts between the Ministry of Economy, local tourism departments and bodies, and relevant government entities to develop integrated plans and programs to develop foreign tourism and attract international tourists, especially in view of significant increase in tourism recovery rates globally, and the existence of growing opportunities to open new markets to enhance the country’s position on the global tourism map.