Dubai 9th leading global destination – study

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A view of Burj Khaleefa, world's tallest building, in Dubai, UAE. Photo -

The home to the world’s tallest skyscraper is also the Middle East’s top destination this year with 7.9 million visitors, according to an index released by global credit card company MasterCard on Monday. Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital, was 6th on the Top 10 Destination Cities in Middle East and Africa by international visitors during 2011.

MasterCard releases the Worldwide Index of Global Destination Cities, an index that gives a insight of how the world’s biggest cities are connected. Dubai featured prominently on the Index, bagging ninth position in terms of inbound international visitors numbers, and outshining global cities such as New York, Amsterdam, Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai.
The Index ranks 132 cities in terms of the number of their total international visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2011.

The index also said that Dubai will attract the highest Middle East visitor spend at $7.8 billion, ranking 18th in the Top 20 Destination Cities by International Visitor Spending.

The findings revealed around a million people arrived in Dubai from London, spending $876m approximately. The next big number of visitor arrivals was from Kuwait (343,000) spending $373m, and Beijing (300,000) spending $334m.

The Index showed that the UAE is emerging as a tourism hub as with Abu Dhabi expecting to see an increase of 15.5% in international visitors. The MasterCard rankings placed Abu Dhabi on 7th position when it came to international visitor spending with tourists spending a whopping $2bn this year. The UAE capital’s growth rate of visitor spending stood at around 21.8%.

Cairo came second on the Top 10 Destination Cities in the Middle East and Africa table with 3.7 million visitors followed by Johannesburg (3m), Casablanca (2.5m), Amman (1.8m), Beirut (1.7m) and Tunis (1.7m).

The MasterCard Index offers an optimistic overall forecast by using information obtained from 87 airlines, national tourism boards, the United Nations and other global agencies.

“We are delighted to see Dubai and Abu Dhabi rank as two prominent worldwide destinations in MasterCard’s latest study,” said Raghu Malhotra, general manager, Middle East, MasterCard.

“MasterCard continually strives to offer exclusive benefits to our cardholders this travel season as we are giving cardholders more opportunities to break away with their families. The UAE, with its renowned hospitality and retail offerings is a key destination for visitors and we aim to ensure that their trip to the UAE is filled with yet more priceless moments.”

The survey also revealed that total visitor numbers and cross-border spending will increase by 5.7% and 10.6% respectively for the top 20 destination cities in 2012.

The results come as a fresh breeze in a period of stale world economic output, a persistent euro zone crisis and increased uncertainty in the financial sector.

“The growing need and desire to travel, especially by air, are set to expand in spite of the ups and downs of the business cycles,” MasterCard’s report said.

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