Dubai cements 'World's busiest international airport' title with 7.2% growth

Dubai -Dubai International cemented its title as the world's busiest airport for international passengers in 2016, with a 7.2% increase in traveller numbers to 83.6 million, its operator said Tuesday, 24 January. 

Dubai Airports said "near record numbers" in December had pushed annual traffic at the Gulf hub to 83 654 250 passengers, compared with 78 014 838 in 2015.

The airport, which serves as the home of Emirates airline, became the world's busiest in terms of international passenger traffic in 2014.

ALSO SEE: Cape Town International Airport hits 10 million passenger milestone in 2016

"With our new forecast for 89 million passengers in 2017, DXB is closing the gap on Atlanta and Beijing for the top spot in overall traffic," Dubai Airports chief executive Paul Griffiths in a statement.

The airport announced in February it was expanding its annual capacity to 90 million passengers with the opening of a new concourse.

Griffiths said at the time that Dubai Airports was expecting to receive 85 million passengers in 2016.

ALSO SEE: OR Tambo International Airport to get R42 million boost

Situated on transcontinental air routes, Dubai is one of several Gulf-based airports to experience prodigious growth in recent years.

More than 100 airlines fly to around 260 destinations from the international hub. 

United Arab Emirates a growing tourist destination

The United Arab Emirates has not only become an axle around which the air travel world revolves, but also tourist destination within itself. 

Abu Dhabi, just south of Dubai, achieved record numbers of hotel guests in 2016 according to year-end figures gathered by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi). More than 4.4 million guest arrivals were recorded in Abu Dhabi over the course of last year, which is an 8% growth over 2015. 

SEE: Must-eats: 5 tantalising Abu Dhabi treats

Statistics across guest nights, average length of stay and revenues also offered strong results, with 12 031 628 guest nights in total. 

Abu Dhabi’s record-breaking figures for 2016 have been released as tourism stakeholders meet with TCA overseas office representatives at the annual Overseas Offices Summit. Now in its 6th year, the Overseas Offices Summit is a major annual event for tourism stakeholders to share product details with TCA Abu Dhabi’s 11 overseas office teams, who then identify opportunities across emerging international markets.

ALSO SEE: WATCH: Ferrari World Abu Dhabi sets sight on two Guinness World Records

India retains its position as the largest overseas market for Abu Dhabi with growth of 15% to 323 388 in guest arrivals, while dedicated Weibo and Wechat online channels and a visa on arrival scheme have elevated China to third place, with 31% growth in guest arrivals.

SEE: Abu Dhabi nightlife: 7 hotspots to check out

The UK continues to lead the European markets, cementing is position as second largest international market with 238 167 arrivals over the course of 2016.   

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