The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has released figures showing 1,629,578 hotel guests in 2014, 5.6 percent increase on 2013.

Dubai's top ten hotel guest source markets in 2014 remained almost entirely unchanged from 2013, with only slight shifts in positioning. For January to December 2014, Saudi Arabia was once again the top source market, followed by India, UK, USA, Iran, Oman, China, Kuwait, Russia and Germany.

China moved from tenth position to seventh, experiencing 24.9 percent growth in the last 12 months with 344,329 hotel guests compared to 275,675 in 2013. DTCM attributed the surge to the growth in the number of Chinese travelers, who are increasingly looking to travel outside of China.

India (ranked 2nd) and the UK (ranked 3rd) also showed significant increases in the number of hotel guests, rising 12.2 percent and 11.3 percent respectively.

The March 2014 UAE federal ruling that exempted citizens of 13 European member states from requiring a pre-entry visa to the UAE - joining the other 15 European member states for which the exemption already applied - contributed to increases in hotel guest numbers from European countries.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of DTCM, commented: "The 2014 figures demonstrate healthy year-on-year growth for hotel establishment guest numbers with significant increases from Asia, Africa and Western Europe. The strong growth in hotel guests from China is hugely positive and reflects our targeted work in this market. For example, in April 2014 tourism industry partners from across the emirate collaborated closely to host the largest ever delegate group from China with the NuSkin conference bringing more than 14,500 Chinese visitors to Dubai over a three week period.”

He continued: “Such events, as well as our hosting of the largest ever tourism industry FAM trip from India in December 2014 and steps taken to leverage the exemption of pre-entry visas for all European Union member states, are crucial to further strengthen ties with key markets and ensure that Dubai is positioned as a destination of choice for both new travelers and repeat visitors."

The 5.6 percent increase in the number of hotel guests occurred despite the decrease in the number of Russian visitors - a result of the current geopolitical situation and the decrease in the value of the Ruble, according to Almarri.

“Due to the long-held strategy and collaborative commitment between DTCM and our partners to diversify our inbound markets, Dubai's tourism industry is insulated from any short-term fluctuations within any one market, and in 2015 we will continue to work with our partners to increase market share from newer markets,” he said. “Driven both by China's share of global outbound travel and rising wealth and changing consumer habits in emerging markets, the global travel industry is poised for a period of sustained growth over the next decade: Dubai is well positioned to leverage these factors to drive growth of our tourism economy."