The Middle East made a strong comeback last year as international and German tourists regained confidence in the region, the newly-published fvw Destination Ranking 2019 shows.
Dubai remains the biggest destination by far in the Middle East thanks to its combination of ultra-modern tourism infrastructure, diverse attractions for different customer segments and a positive image. International visitor numbers increased slightly to nearly 16 million last year, which is 44% more than five years ago. The emirate set another record for German tourists with a 12% rise to 567,000 visitors, which represents a 75% increase in a five-year comparison, thanks to expanded flight capacity. Dubai continues to aim high and is targeting 25 million visitors from around the world next year when it hosts the Expo 2020.
Neighbouring Abu Dhabi remains on the growth path thanks to investments in new attractions and more hotels. The UAE’s biggest emirate topped five million international visitors for the first time last year, while German tourist numbers improved by 8%.
Qatar was a big winner on the German market last year with a dramatic 43% rise in visitor numbers (including cruise guests), driven by sports events and close partnerships with tour operators and cruise companies. Among other Gulf destinations, Oman has also performed strongly in recent years but Bahrain has seen a more fluctuating performance despite large-scale marketing activities.
A clear winner last year was Israel, which is benefiting from strong tourism promotion and more direct flights. The number of German tourists went up by 20% to 262,000, which is a 64% increase in a five-year comparison. International visitors also flocked to the country with a 14% rise to more than four million arrivals.
Jordan made a strong comeback on the German market in 2018 with a 31% jump after suffering from its geographical location next to Syria in previous years. The kingdom is also steadily recovering in other international markets.