Expo 2020 Dubai, Saudi Vision 2030 expected spur GCC tourism

Published: 9 August 2020 - 5:45 a.m.

COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the world economy, with the travel and tourism sector being the hardest hit by the fall-out from the pandemic. The countries in the region suspended all international flights and tourist visas. The hotels closed temporarily or acted as isolation centres during this period. Most of the countries are currently undergoing either partial or complete lockdown in order to contain the spread of virus.

But, some of the markets in the region have slowly started to ease restrictions, with the opening of hotels, malls, parks and beaches. However, there is still uncertainty in the market regarding the expected performance of hotels. Based on Colliers MENA Hotel Market Survey results, most hotel owners expect the recovery to start in Q4 2020 and continue in 2021. While international tourists slowly start coming back, the focus for the hotels will be to attract the domestic market (families and solo travellers) in the short term.

The UAE and KSA markets are expected to see a faster recovery in comparison to the other markets in region. The UAE will potentially benefit from the build up to Expo 2020 with the actual event expected to start in Q4 2021. On the other hand, once the recovery begins, markets in KSA are expected to continue benefiting from the on-going tourism initiatives, upcoming mega projects as well as domestic tourism.

Expo 2020 Dubai
Now Dubai’s Expo 2020 is planned for quarter four 2021, the UAE will benefit from the build-up to the massive event, which is due to draw in thousands of people to work at the site in advance of the event, as well as those visiting.

Haj tourism
The Saudi Arabia forecast for 2020 takes into account a restriction on the number of pilgrims staying in Makkah and Medina during this year’s Haj. However in 2021, KSA is expected to benefit from the Kingdom’s ongoing tourism initiatives.

Struggle for Lebanon
Beirut is expected to have the lowest hotel occupancy in the region in 2020, dropping below 30 percent. It is expected to rise to 42 percent in 2021, an increase but one that leaves the city as one of the biggest casualties of COVID-19.

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