Visitors to Dubai splash far more cash than tourists in other global city hotspots

Visitors to Dubai are “by far” the biggest spenders among tourists to international cities including London, New York, Tokyo and Paris, according to new research by Savills.

Overseas travellers to the emirate spend almost twice the average of 12 cities surveyed by Savills. “The research shows the highest spending visitors, by far, are Dubai’s,” said David Godchaux, the chief executive of Core Savills.

“Overseas visitors, who had an overnight stay in the emirate, spent an estimated US$4.7 billion in restaurants and cafes in Dubai [last year]. In terms of spending on retail, this figure reaches $9.7bn. This dwarfs the total amounts spent in the 11 other global cities measured.”

The emirate also topped the list of overnight visitors from outside the host country with 15.2 million last year, ahead of Singapore at 12.1 million.

Visitors add an average of 3 per cent to a city’s population every night, posing significant opportunities for hotel, leisure and retail operators, according to Savills.

Its 12 Cities report found that about 901 million domestic and overseas visitors were attracted to the cities examined during 2015, spending a total of 1.05 billion nights in hotels or other accommodation. In some cases, such as New York, London and Dubai, the visitor populations hosted were the equivalent of another city in themselves. Dubai’s average overnight visitor numbers per day, for example, is equal to the population of Aswan, the report found.

The split between domestic and overseas visitors varies widely between cities. Domestic visitors in Dubai do not register at all as a percentage in the report, while Moscow topped out at 89 per cent from domestic sources, says Savills. Average accommodation costs per stay range from $173 per person in Shanghai to $553 in Dubai.

“In Paris and Dubai, visitors swell the population by over 10 per cent, creating demand for guest accommodation,” said Mr Godchaux. Visitors to Dubai, he added “spend nearly twice the average of our 12 cities”.

“It is also notable that the biggest visitor cities are also the most expensive for living and workspace,” Mr Godchaux said.

George Nicholas, global head of hotels at Savills, said the growth of tourism worldwide is leading to a shortage of rooms in many cities which, in turn, has shifted the focus of investors’ attraction to hotel assets.

“As global tourism continues to rise demand for bed space in many city markets is now outstripping supply,” he said.

“For example, Tokyo has had an influx of tourists from China following the relaxation of visa requirements and the city now has a chronic shortage of rooms, while in London the fall in the value of the Sterling is attracting visitors who previously thought the UK’s capital too expensive.

“The net result of this is that we’re seeing a shift in where investor appetite for hotel assets and platforms stems from, with Asian capital in particular coming to the fore in Europe over the past 12 months.

“The three transactions to have concluded in London post the EU referendum have all gone to Asian domiciled money, while China Life has just invested nearly $2 billion into a select service portfolio of hotels in the United States alongside Starwood Capital. We continue to receive significant interest from Asian investors, particularly those from China and Hong Kong, for hotels in London and across Europe’s gateway cities.”

It is not just the market for hotels and hotel land upon which international visitors have an impact, said Yolande Barnes, the director of Savills World Research.

Across nine top global cities including Dubai, New York, London and Paris, “annual food and beverage spend by international visitors totals at least $21bn a year and shopping accounts for $38bn,” Ms Barnes said.

“Restaurants, bars, cafes and shops are significantly impacted by these revenue inflows so ensuring that there is enough space to accommodate visitors is therefore not just imperative for the hotels sector, but also for the wider city economy.”

The 12 Cities report covered Dubai, London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Moscow, Shanghai, Sydney, Honk Kong, Mumbai, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro.

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Chris Nelson

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