Stats: Abu Dhabi Fastest-Growing Destination in Middle East, Africa

Louvre Abu Dhabi
The destination is set to launch the Louvre Abu Dhabi. // Photo by Mohamed Somji

Abu Dhabi has been named the fastest growing destination city in the Middle East and Africa, according to the 2017 Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index. The UAE Capital ranked fourth globally as a leading destination city with a projected increase of 4.5 percent in visitor figures, as well as the fourth fastest growing destination city out of 132 countries worldwide.

With a growth rate of 18.9 percent on 2016 figures on the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index, Abu Dhabis growth as a destination of distinction in the region places it above Riyadh, Tehran and Dubai.

In a written release, HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, director general, Department of Culture and Tourism, said, Being recognized as the fastest growing destination cities in the region is an incredible achievement. With the recently announced launch of the much-anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi and cultural exhibitions such as Hajj: Memories of a Journey, the capitals reputation as a destination of distinction continues to grow, building on the unique experiences and cultural heritage offered.


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Based on visitor volume and spend information for the 2016 calendar year, the in-depth analysis also provides a forecast for growth in 2017, insight on the fastest growing destination cities, and a deeper understanding of why people travel and how they spend around the world. Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities, using custom-made algorithms; paying special attention to eliminate the hub effects for destination cities such as Singapore, Dubai, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

Ghobash said, Last year was a record breaking year for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, welcoming 4.4 million visitors. Our year-on-year growth rate has been strong and by the end of 2017 we are looking to reach our target of over 4.9 million visitors to the Emirate.

The Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities in 2016, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2017.

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