Abu Dhabi tourism grows by 17%

With its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) having swollen to a staggering 62 per cent in five years, the tourism sector in Abu Dhabi has recorded an annual growth of 17 per cent during the last couple of years. According to a study by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), tourism has carved a niche as a significant driving force in the emirates economy.

“The tourism industry, including those sectors directly in contact with visitors, generated AED 3.7 billion of GDP in 2005, or 1.2% of the economy. When excluding the oil sector, the relative importance of the direct tourism industry jumps to 3.0% of GDP,” said ADTA, Director General, Mubarak Hamad Al Muhairi.

Citing findings of the study, Muhairi said, “In terms of employment, tourism is even more important to the Emirate. Tourism directly generated 32,028 jobs in 2005 or 3.3% of all employment.”

The ADTA chief further revealed that total economic impact of tourism was AED 8.7 billion in 2005, or 2.9% of the economy. When excluding the oil sector, the relative importance of the total economic impact of tourism jumps to 7.1% of GDP. Tourism drove total employment of 73,494, or 7.6% of all employment in the Emirate in 2005

In order to measure and track the tourism economy, the ADTA has developed what is called a Tourism Satellite Account (TSA). The TSA is the international standard for measuring the contribution of tourism to an economy. The TSA provides a framework for expanding the analysis to the total economic impact of tourism. This includes indirect impacts such as the tourism industry supply-chain, tourism-driven construction, and income effects. The TSA is the yardstick for gauging just how much of the economy is driven by tourism.


According to Al Muhairi, the study provides a scientific and reliable outlook of tourism trends at different times. Such data is useful in determining the role and contribution of tourism in the emirate’s economy.

Additionally, said Muhairi, “The study identifies the economically viable markets and also shows the way towards achieving a balance in resources. It further helps in diversifying the sources of income. The study was conducted through the TSA module, a relatively modern international standard approved and used by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).”

By applying such international paradigms and studies, the ADTA aims to assert the importance of the tourism sector and its ability to attract local and international investments. It will also help in the process of decision making, eventually culminating in adoption of balanced and informed decisions.

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