India is Dubai’s largest tourism market by a long shot, but this new visa is likely only for a select few.
Indian nationals now receive a pre-approved visa on arrival when landing in Dubai, provided they fly in with Emirates. Emirates is the city’s national carrier and one of the world’s largest airlines, and currently serves nine destinations in India with 167 weekly flights.
Specifically, the visa is a 14-day single entry visa but comes with the stipulation that the traveler has a US, US green card, EU residency, or UK residency. Travelers must still apply for the visa, but can do it directly through the Emirates website.
India is Dubai’s long-time number-one inbound tourism market. Dubai Tourism is yet to publish full-year figures for 2023, but we know almost two million Indians visited Dubai up to October 2023. That’s 26% more than in 2019, and over double of Dubai’s second-largest source market (the UK).
Dubai’s popularity in the Indian market is likely to only continue to grow as India sees a boom in its middle class. This group in India grew 6.3% per year between 1995 and 2021, according to a report by the People Research on India’s Consumer Economy (PRICE). Today, 31% of India’s 1.4 billion population is considered middle class.
In our Skift Megatrend 2024, Ayyappan Rajagopal, CEO of online travel company Cleartrip, said India’s middle class helped drive travel demand post-pandemic: “The increasing spending power of the middle class, combined with accessible and affordable travel, is poised to exert a significant influence on the growth of the global travel industry.”