However, travellers from Oman, one of its strongest markets over the years, has seen a decline of four per cent.
The visitors from Oman fell to 829,000 in 2018 from 862,000 in 2017, holding an overall fifth position.
While visitors from Pakistan, another important source market, witnessed a drop of 14 per cent from 598,000 to 513,000.
Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Tourism commented, “The department remains focused on ensuring that Dubai becomes the number one most-visited city in the world in line with Dubai’s Tourism Strategy 2022-25. As such, throughout 2018, we developed and deployed a custom-market specific approach to our global outreach programmes to deeper penetrate our target markets and widen the sphere of influence and engagement with the Dubai proposition.”
Traditional strongholds have retained their affinity for the city’s destination proposition, with India once again crossing the 2mn mark and maintaining its number one position at the end of 2018.
Saudi Arabia came in second with 1.6mn visitors, representing a steady three per cent year-on-year growth.
The UK, meanwhile, also retained its third place slot with 1.2mn British travellers visiting the city in 2018.
Experiencing impressive encore performances with double-digit growth to maintain their strength within the top ten feeder markets, China, Russia and Germany continued their upward trajectory in 2018.
China rose to the number four position, with tourism volumes rising 12 per cent in year-on-year growth to bring in 857,000 Chinese tourists in 2018.
Russia experienced a significant 28 per cent growth to move up two places landing at sixth position with 678,000 visitors in 2018, as both China and Russia continued to benefit from the introduction of UAE visa-on-arrival visitor regulations and increased air capacity into the emirate.
German tourists continued to grow as 2018 welcomed an impressive 567,000 tourists, exhibiting a 12 per cent increase over 506,000 visitors in 2017.
The US came in as the seventh top source market with 656,000 visitors in 2018 representing an increase of four per cent while the Philippines entered the top 10 for the very first time with 387,000 tourists to Dubai.
Owing to successful ongoing destination marketing strategies, Dubai also welcomed 348,000 overnight guests from France, with the country rising two ranks and seeing a 17 per cent year-on-year increase while Italy witnessed a nine per cent growth.
A stellar 36 per cent spike from Nigeria brought the market back into the top 20, with 185,000 Nigerians visiting Dubai in 2018.
These strong performances helped balance the decline in visitation from strong-hold markets like Oman and Pakistan.