Travel and tourism contribution to the Middle East’s GDP rises by 4.2%

Published: 16 September 2019 - 10 a.m.
By: Hotelier Middle East Staff

Travel and tourism's contribution to the Middle East’s GDP is predicted to rise by 4.2% per year to US$133.6 billion by 2028, driven in part by additional tourists to the region as a result of mega-events, major sporting and political events, cultural festivals, concerts and MICE events, data from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed.

Arabian Travel Market’s exhibition director ME, Danielle Curtis said: “Events of all kinds have become increasingly important drivers for international arrivals to the UAE, GCC and wider MENA region over recent years. ”

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The exhibition centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi experienced a 14% growth in footfall between 2016 and 2018 with Dubai World Trade Centre welcoming 3.4 million visitors in 2018 and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre combined with Al Ain Exhibition Centre welcoming over two million during the same period.

Expo 2020, taking place from October 2020 to April 2021, will comprise 192 pavilions from countries around the world with over 25 million visitors and 145,000 visits for every one of the 173 days the site is open.

Organisers of the event are predicting 11 million visits by people living in the UAE and 14 million visits from overseas visitors. According to consultancy firm EY, this will provide a $33.4 billion (AED122.6 billion) boost to the local economy, supporting the equivalent of 49,700 full-time jobs a year.

In Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030 has set aside $64 billion to invest in culture, leisure and entertainment projects over the next decade, according to a recent report from real estate firm Savills.

This investment combined with entertainment activities in the kingdom predicted to attract 25 million visitors by 2021.

Curtis added: “Looking at 2018 alone, exhibitions across Saudi Arabia witnessed a 103% increase in visitation with a total of 61 major events taking place over 349 days. Last year was also a milestone in terms of sporting events for the country, with events such as the King Salman Tennis Championship, WWE Crown Jewel and Formula E taking place in the Kingdom.”

Arabian Travel Market, which welcomed almost 40,000 people to its 2019 event has adopted Tourism Growth as the official show theme for Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2020.

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