The number of visitors from China to Dubai in 2016 stood at 540,000, up 20 percent from a year earlier, the government-owned Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said here Tuesday. Overall tourist arrivals for the year, at 14.9 million, rose 4.92 percent from that of 2015. China dominated the demand from Asia, firmly cementing its status as among Dubai's top 10 markets, DTCM said, adding that China's contribution would go up further in light of the United Arab Emirate's visa exemption policies that came into force in November 2016. The growth in tourist arrivals in 2016, at 4.92 percent, was slower than the 7.5 percent posted in 2015. The drop was attributed to a general slowdown in business in the Gulf Arab state. Dubai's state-owned carrier, Emirates Airline, reported a 75 percent profit slump in April-September, 2016. "Increased competition, as well as the sustained economic and political uncertainty in many parts of the world, has added downward pressure on prices and dampened travel demand," said then Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline. Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai Tourism, remained optimistic about Dubai's objective of attracting at least 20 million visitors by 2020, when the UAE hosts the World Expo. The sheikhdom's keenness to attract more visitors from China has been mirrored in increased activities during Chinese New Year celebrations. To meet growing demand, Emirates Airline started flights to Chinese cities of Yinchuan and Zhengzhou last May as its fourth and fifth destination in China. On Dec. 20, Sichuan Airlines launched its first direct flight from Chengdu to Dubai.