India has overtaken Britain as the biggest tourism source market to Dubai. The stellar growth of the Indian economy has given to a ten percent rise in its nationals visiting the emirate over the first quarter of the year, according to the latest figures from the Dubai Department of Tourism.

Armani Hotel Dubai
Armani Hotel Dubai

In the three months ending 31 March, 186,478 Indian tourists stayed in Dubai’s hotels, up from 169,084 last year.

The growth comes as Dubai is enjoying a resurgent tourism economy and was voted “Middle East’s Leading Destination” at last month’s World Travel Awards 2011 Middle East Ceremony.

The results come as the UN World Tourism Organisation predicts that the number of Indian outbound tourists will rise to 50 million each year by 2020 due to a surge in per capita income.

India’s economy is predicted to grow by 8.2 percent this year from a 10.4 percent increase last year, according to the IMF.

Meanwhile growth from Britain remained static due to on-going credit squeeze, forcing tourism authorities and hoteliers in Dubai to look to emerging markets for new growth.

The other BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia and China also demonstrated ongoing development as the growing middle classes increase their travel expenditure.

In November, Emirates Airline is starting a flight from St Petersburg to Dubai, as a response to demand as Russians are frequently the biggest occupants of Dubai’s beach hotels, especially in the winter months.

The carrier also beginning new flights to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Both flights follow the recent success of Emirates’ debut in Brazil with flights from the commercial hub Sao Paulo also bringing new tourists to Dubai.

Meanwhile the Chinese are being drawn in greater numbers, particularly to new showcase hotels like the Armani in the Burj Khalifa. The first Armani hotel in the world also played host to the World Travel Awards 2011 Middle East Ceremony in May.

Dubai’s tourism development strategy has always revolved around following the money with new flights from the highly regarded Emirates Airline and high quality accommodation at reasonable cost, and this is now proving as effective in the emerging markets as it has been elsewhere.