By Ghulam Haider
Mastercard’s annual Global Cities Destination Index has ranked Dubai as the city with the most tourist dollars spend in any city worldwide where overnight international visitor spent nearly $31 billion this year, $21 billion for Makkah, $20 billion brought in by Bangkok, $16.8 billion for Doha and $16.1 billion for London.
Dubai has also retained its ranking as the world’s fourth most visited city on Mastercard’s latest Global Cities Destination Index. The release comes as Dubai’s Department of Tourism has announced the ten finalists of its Futurism accelerator.
It was in 2022 that cities began their true recovery, as travel restrictions were lifted and demand for international travel returned. As tourism recovers, overcrowding in some destinations is a risk. It is, therefore, important for cities to have the right policies in place to address it. Such policies ought to be enacted in advance before the problem comes to fruition.
Mastercard’s annual Global Cities Destination Index has landed with Dubai steady at fourth among the world’s most visited cities – clocking close to 16 million international visits for the year. The Emirate has, however, lost some ground to the previously third-placed Paris, which gained around one and a half million more visitors to slip slightly ahead of London (19 million), while Bangkok was once again the world’s number one international destination.
With the average length of stay in Dubai set at three and a half days – compared to 4.8 days in Bangkok – visitors to Dubai spend a whopping $553 on average per day, well above the $184 spent in Bangkok and close to four times that spent in London. With a population of three or so million, this translates to Dubai also pulling in the second-most tourist revenue per resident (behind Phuket), at around $11,000 a head, amounting to 27 percent as a ratio to local GDP.
As many as 10 of the 82 cities are projected to exceed pre-pandemic levels in terms of direct travel and tourism gross domestic product contribution to their economies this year. Doha is forecast for the largest increase from 2019, in terms of travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the city’s GDP, with an expected increase of 21 per cent.
Warsaw is expected to record a significant 14 per cent increase, while in the US, Orlando is projected to post a 10 per cent increase over the same period. The cities forecast to record the largest direct travel and tourism contribution to GDP this year are Paris with $36 billion, Beijing with $33 billion and Orlando with $31 billion.
Top tourist destinations around the world
Once again, Dubai has earned and maintained its position as the fourth most visited city in the world in Mastercard’s Global Destinations Cities Index. As the most attractive destination in the Middle East and Africa region for international visitors, Dubai connects people from all over the world with a diverse range of offerings for leisure and business travellers alike.
Not content to rest on its laurels, Dubai continues to innovate in the tourism space such as through Dubai Tourism’s Futurism start-up accelerator (hosted in collaboration with Accenture) – an entrepreneurial platform which no less than aims to bring about “a paradigm shift within the industry ecosystem to help create innovative tourism experiences.” With applications having closed at the beginning of August, Dubai Tourism has now announced its ten successful finalists.
Among them; ‘microstay’ platform Stayhopper, which allows visitors to book hotels by the hour; US ‘micro-vibration’ pattern recognition tech firm Xandar Kardian, which measures micro human movements via Radar Signal Processing and Chatdesk, which uses existing brand converts as freelance customer support agents on social media channels. The ten selected start-ups will now embark on a six-week accelerator with support from the programme partners.
Accenture is committed to the region’s travel and tourism aspirations and this collaboration with Dubai Tourism is an example of our dedication to bringing and embedding an exceptional quality of start-ups into the Dubai ecosystem to grow the industry.
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The travel and tourism sector will directly generate up to 8 per cent of all jobs by 2032 in the cities analysed, up from 6.6 per cent in 2019 and a low of 5.1 per cent in 2020, underscoring the importance of city tourism in driving economic growth.
This year, direct jobs in travel and tourism are expected to return to 2019 levels in 11 cities including Rio de Janeiro with 18 per cent growth, followed by Johannesburg and Chicago with 13 per cent growth each.
The travel and tourism industry will generate 126 million jobs globally over the next decade, becoming a critical driver of economic growth with its contribution to GDP growing faster than other sectors.
From this year to next, the strongest annual average growth in direct travel and tourism GDP is expected to be concentrated in the Asia-Pacific with Hong Kong, Bangkok and Jakarta being the top performers.
The Saudi Arabian cities of Riyadh and Jeddah are also expected to register strong growth. For millions of tourists around the world, major cities remain iconic global destinations. There’s still a strong appetite to experience the history, culture and energy that cities offer travellers.