Dubai welcomed a record 16.73 million tourists in 2019, up 5.1 per cent on 2018.
The improvement was driven by increasing numbers of Chinese, Russian and Omani visitors.
The emirate - which will this year host Expo 2020 - has set a target of 20 million tourists for 2020.
“While the global economy remains in a state of flux, we can clearly see an exciting opportunity to further grow Dubai’s dominance in the tourism industry in 2020,” said Dubai Tourism chief Saeed al-Marri.
Indian tourists topped arrivals last year, with nearly two million visiting Dubai, a slight drop from 2018.
They were followed by 1.6 million Saudis.
Britons came in third with 1.2 million tourists.
Visitors from Oman increased 24 per cent, to more than one million, putting the neighbouring country in fourth place.
The number of Chinese tourists also rose by 15.5 per cent, to 989,000, while Russian visitors increased 7.4 per cent to 728,000.
The United Arab Emirates in January introduced a multiple-entry visa valid for five years for all nationalities.
The emirate has high hopes that the 6-month global trade fair Expo 2020, starting in October, will boost its fortunes.
The government is looking to Expo 2020 to attract 25 million visitors, most of them from abroad, and is projecting a 25 per cent increase in revenues to $17.4 billion.
Dubai is the only government in the Gulf not dependent on hydrocarbon revenues and projects around 94% of income to come from non-oil sources.
It is famous for tourist attractions including the Palm Jumeirah, Mall of the Emirates, Burj Khalifa and Burj al Arab.