- Tourism has long been an economic mainstay of Dubai, which welcomed 16.7 million such visitors in 2019
DUBAI: Dubai International Airport reported Wednesday a 41 percent drop in traffic in the first half of 2021, but said it anticipates "robust growth" after the easing of travel restrictions.
The number of passengers that passed through the world's largest airport for international travel fell to 10.6 million in the first six months of 2021, according to a statement from the Dubai Media Office.
In the first quarter of last year, the airport had welcomed 17.8 million passengers before it temporarily suspended commercial flights in the second quarter to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
"Dubai Airports is projecting robust growth for Dubai International in the second half of the year," the statement said.
The emirate, one of the seven that make up the UAE, was one of the first destinations to reopen to tourism in July last year.
It became a magnet for visitors escaping dreary winter weather and stringent Covid-19 restrictions.
The UAE launched a vaccination campaign in December and has inoculated 72 percent of its nearly 10 million population.
Last year, Dubai International Airport reported a 70 percent drop in traffic, with the number of travellers falling from more than 86 million in 2019 to 25.9 million in 2020.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), global air passenger traffic plunged by an unprecedented 66 percent last year owing to travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
But the airport is expecting better volumes in the six months to the end of December 2021.
"In anticipation of the robust recovery of global air travel, we started the second half on a high note," Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said in the statement.
"We have already witnessed some of our busiest weekends of the year in July, and... the outlook for 2021 in terms of passenger numbers looks very promising."
Tourism has long been an economic mainstay of Dubai, which welcomed 16.7 million such visitors in 2019.
The government was last year counting on the six-month Dubai Expo 2020 global trade fair -- delayed by a year and now set to open in October -- to attract millions of visitors and boost the economy.