Saudi Arabia and the UAE are likely to see consistent growth in inbound tourism between 2010 and 2015, according to research unveiled at WTM Vision Conference, Dubai.
“The Middle Eastern tourism industry should take heart from these generally positive findings,” said World Travel Market (WTM) Exhibition Director Simon Press.
“Euromonitor International’s research shows the region’s travel and tourism industry is a strong position and will grow in global importance,” said the director.
The Travel and Tourism Global Overview report tips Saudi Arabia to have one of the largest compound annual growth rates in the world of 12.3 percent for arrivals over 2010-2015 which will result in an additional 9.3 million visitors to the country. This makes Saudi Arabia the fifth largest country in terms of absolute arrivals growth over the forecast review.
This growth is driven mainly by the religious tourism to Makkah and Madinah, supported by infrastructure developments in air transportation and travel accommodation.
Saudi Arabia also continues to be one of the most economically stable markets in the Middle East thanks to its status as the world’s leading oil exporter.
It is investing heavily in economic development, including the creation of six mega cities that will help generate employment, attract investment and drive business tourism.
The UAE will see an annual increase in arrivals during the forecast review period of 6.9 percent, resulting in 3.6 million new arrivals, being the 14th largest country in terms of absolute arrivals growth over 2010-2015.
Significant infrastructure developments are taking place in the UAE, which are expected to contribute significantly to the growing number of arrivals to the country.
Dubai is also set to seal its position as a global air transportation hub upon the opening of the world’s largest airport, Al-Maktoum Airport, with a capacity of 160 million passengers a year.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been capable of dealing with challenging external events as demonstrated by the resilience of their respective travel and tourism industries, partly thanks to intra-regional travel, says the report.
Nadejda Popova, Euromonitor International Travel and Tourism Industry analyst, said the expansion of the hotel sector in the region could result in an oversupply as supply outpaces demand, which would impact rates and RevPAR.
Positives for the region are its strong air transportation sector and the 2022 FIFA World Cup taking place in Qatar.
The “contagion of instability” and oil price rises are potential weaknesses, although Popova did point out that the UAE itself has remained “stable,” during the region’s recent political and civil unrest. She also said there will be an absolute increase in outbound trips from the UAE of two million between 2010 and 2015.
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