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KARACHI: Dubai is in number one place on Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards for 2022: the Best of the Best Destinations, dethroning popular tourism spots like London, Paris and Rome.

US-based Tripadvisor, a platform that helps people plan and book trips based on guidance from other travellers, said 2022 is shaping up to be the year “we return to travel in a big way” after the pandemic, as restrictions around the world begin to ease.

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“Despite new variant surges, data shows that the desire to travel remains stronger than ever,” it said.

Steven Paganelli, Director, Destinations, Hotels and OTAs, Americas at Tripadvisor noted that “as the world returns to travel, priorities are changing, and people want more memorable experiences on their trips.”

And it seems Dubai is just the ticket. The platform chose winning destinations by analysing the quality and quantity of traveller reviews and ratings and looked at factors like accommodation, restaurants and things to do.

It described Dubai is a destination that mixes modern culture with history, and adventure with shopping and entertainment. It also gave it the title of the top destination for city lovers.

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The city has plenty to offer both kids and adults, such as watching a show at the Dubai Opera, admiring views from some of the highest buildings in the world, or strolling down City Walk.

Tripadvisor’s list of top attractions in Dubai, based on tourist recommendations, include visiting the Burj Khalifah, the Dubai Fountain - designed by creators of the Fountains of Bellagio in Vegas – Dubai Mall and Dubai Miracle Garden - which features 150 million flowers over 72,000-sq-m.

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For the more adventurous souls, there is sky diving over the Palm Jumeirah, as well as hot air balloon rides, desert safaris and amusement parks.

Justin Reid, director of media, destinations and travel at Tripadvisor, told CNN Travel:

“Dubai is an ultramodern city that has it all: golden beaches, world-class dining, and gorgeous hotels. Since the Travelers’ Choice Awards are based on reviews of places to go, stay and things to do in destinations, to rank as the world’s best means a destination has obtained stellar traveler reviews across all of its tourism sectors.”

He said that “despite the effects of the pandemic, Dubai still attracted visitors from near and far over the past year, and has stood out as their favourite place to go in a year when they really needed some excitement.”

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The development is a positive for Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), an affiliate of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), that is responsible to promote the emirate’s vision to become the most visited city in the world.

Dubai attracted a record 16.7 million overnight visitors in 2019, a 5.1% year-on-year growth in volume. Visitors from Pakistan contributed 3% to the overall number, putting it in ninth place among the top 10 source markets for Dubai tourism.

The total number of visitors dropped to 5.5 million in 2020 as the pandemic hit the tourism sector.

But as soon as soon as the city opened up its doors to those with vaccinations in 2021, Pakistanis began flocking to the popular destination one again. Other than the obvious attractions, it is also a short flight away, offers Halal food and is fairly simple to obtain a tourist visa for, unlike with many other destinations.

Given there are over 1 million Pakistani expats working in Dubai, visiting family is often another reason to visit. And last year, the UAE also hosted the ICC T20 World Cup, attracting a massive influx of tourists from South Asia.

Another reason to visit is the Expo 2020, where the Pakistan pavilion has proven to be exceptionally popular – it attracted more than 100,000 visitors in the first 18 days of opening.

The recovery for Dubai’s tourism is crucial as the economy of the trade, finance, and tourism hub shrank 10.9% last year. The coronavirus-driven drop in tourism contributed to 56% of the overall decline, as per a S&P Global Ratings report from October 2021.

Other top destinations on the Travelers’ Choice Awards for 2022, include London, Cancun in Mexico, Bali in Indonesia and Crete in Greece. Rounding up the top ten spots are Cabo San Lucas, also in Mexico, as well as Istanbul – another popular destination for Pakistanis - along with Paris and Hurghada in Egypt.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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