UAE Travel & Tourism Sector Recovers Strongly, Posting Third Fastest Growth in the Region

The travel and tourism sector in the United Arab Emirates rebounded strongly, achieving the third-fastest growth in the Middle East region last year, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The sector recovered 41.1% in 2021 in the United Arab Emirates, supported by a 48.8% increase in receipts from international visitors, the world body said in its latest report “Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism 2022 ”.

“The rescheduled Expo 2020 and international cricket events such as the Indian Premier League and the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup were factors driving the number of incoming arrivals from 11.3 million in 2020 to 12.9 million in 2021,” he said. WTTC. on Tuesday.

The study revealed that visitor spending in the UAE accounted for 45 percent in 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic period. The data showed that tourist spending reached 18.4 billion dollars (67.5 billion dirhams) last year compared to 40.7 billion dollars (149.3 billion dirhams) in 2019.

The UAE’s ranking improved last year, as the emirate was ranked 8th in terms of visitor spending compared to 10th in 2019.

Tourist numbers are now approaching pre-pandemic levels in Dubai, reaching more than 7.12 million international overnight visitors in the first six months of this year, growing by more than 183% year-on-year during the January to June period.

Industry executives noted that the outlook for 2022 for the UAE’s travel and tourism sector is strong thanks to MICE and sporting events and initiatives taken by the government to increase confidence among foreign tourists and investors.

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Abdulla Al Abdulla, Chief Operating Officer and Group CEO of Central Hotels, said that since the gradual lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, the UAE’s travel and tourism industry has recovered rapidly.

“Expo 2020 and Dubai Tourism initiatives have made Dubai grow faster. The hospitality sector in the UAE is expected to see significant growth in the coming years due to the significant increase in tourist arrivals,” he said.

“New tourism incentives, attractions and facility renovations are expected to attract new tourists and increase the average length of stay in the UAE. Meanwhile, continued investment in Dubai’s airports and hotels, resorts and diversification of source markets are fueling its growth and appeal. Local tourism developments, parks and resorts, and cultural attractions are expected to attract leisure travelers over the next decade,” Al Abdulla said.

Ayman Ashor, General Manager of the cluster, Al Bandar Rotana and Arjaan by Rotana, also sees a healthy and promising outlook for the hotel, travel and tourism sectors in 2022.

“The impressive growth was due to the momentum generated by the successful Expo 2020, which brought immense attention to Dubai and the relaxation of travel restrictions, Golden Visa initiatives, ease of doing business, infrastructure, logistics and the state-of-the-art transportation. services. During the first half of 2022, the ‘City of Wonders’ secured the rights to host 99 major meetings, which is a great achievement,” he added.

Ayman said the performance has been good so far and they are sure to keep the momentum going.

In the Middle East, WTTC said the travel and tourism sector saw the slowest recovery in 2021 among all world regions. After a nearly 50 percent drop in the sector’s contribution to GDP in 2020, it rebounded to 15.9 percent compared to the world average of 21.7 percent. As a result, Travel & Tourism GDP stood at $189 billion in 2021, 41.8% below the 2019 level.

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Furthermore, the sector’s contribution to employment increased by 390,000 to reach 5.6 million jobs in 2021, representing 7.3 percent of all jobs in the region.

India was the largest non-Middle East origin market, accounting for nine percent of all inbound arrivals to the Middle East region in 2021.

In 2022, the sector’s GDP growth is expected to more than double to 36.1%, supported primarily by an estimated 80% increase in international visitor spending.

“The upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup is anticipated to attract a significant number of international visitors. The GDP of the sector is forecast to return to 2019 levels in 2024… By the end of 2032, travel and tourism is also forecast to create 3.6 million new jobs compared to 2022,” he said.

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