February 24, 2019 / 11:24 AM / 10 months ago

Dubai tourism grows marginally in 2018, China tourists up 12 percent: data

Tourist take photos of a mosque across the Dubai Marina, surrounded by high towers of hotels, banks and office buildings, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

DUBAI (Reuters) - Gulf tourism hub Dubai had 15.92 million overnight tourist visitors in 2018, up 0.8 percent from 2017, official data showed on Sunday, with tourist numbers from China rose 12 percent.

The number of visitors from Nigeria soared 36 percent.

Dubai, one of seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates, has spent billions of dollars trying to attract foreign tourists. It is home of the world’s tallest skyscraper the Burj Khalifa.

India remained Dubai’s top overseas market in 2018, with more than 2 million visitors - similar to 2017. In second place were Saudi visitors 1.6 million visitors largely helped by specialized city-wide campaigns for the kingdom’s national day.

Britain came in third, while China ranked fourth, but recorded a 12 percent year on year growth to 875,000 visitors. Nigeria posted a 36 percent rise in visitors to 185,000.

China overtook Oman, which along with Pakistan posted a decline in the number of tourists visiting Dubai last year, the statement said.

The UAE relaxed visa rules for Chinese in recent years in a bid to boost tourism.

Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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