DUBAI, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Dubai Tourism said Wednesday that its hospitality sector saw a 12 percent year-on-year growth in the first two months of 2017, mostly propelled by tourists from China and Russia.
Dubai welcomed just over three million visitors, nearly four times the rate compared to the previous year, said the government-controlled Dubai Tourism authority.
China and Russia in particular drove up the volumes, said Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).
This period, said Dubai Tourism, witnessed a 60 percent growth in overnight tourists from China with January alone peaking at a dramatic 102 percent, attracting a total of 157,000 Chinese visitors in just the first two months.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), to which Dubai belongs, exempted Chinese travellers in November 2016 from the visa-in-advance scheme.
Since then, tourists from China who are particularly attracted to Dubai's warm climate, its shopping malls and sightseeing spots, get a visa on arrival at Dubai International Airport and at Dubai's second hub Al-Maktoum International Airport.
Russian nationals received similar privileges in February 2017.
Reflecting an even more significant percentage increase, Russian visitors jumped 84 percent over the same period last year with February delivering a massive 140 percent volume increase bringing it to a total of 65,000 travellers in the first two months.
Consequently, both countries moved up in their rankings as key source markets for inbound tourism to Dubai with China entering the top 4 for the first time and Russia moving to just outside the top 10, up 4 places from 15.
Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai Tourism, said "Ultimately our collective aim is to make it as easy and as seamless as possible for any prospective tourist from our diversified base of source markets to visit and revisit Dubai."
The emirate, he added, has progressively improved its "China Readiness" throughout the city across all aspects of the tourist journey.
Earlier in February this year, Almarri said visitor numbers from China to Dubai in 2016 stood at 540,000, up 20 percent from the previous year.