UAE and Saudi Arabia set for tourism boom

27th Apr 2011
UAE and Saudi Arabia set for tourism boom

The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will experience some of the world’s strongest inbound tourism growth over the next five years, reveals research unveiled today at WTM Vision Conference.

Nadejda Popova, of Euromonitor International Travel & Tourism Industry, revealed Saudi Arabia and UAE will see consistent growth between 2010 and 2015.

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 per cent 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 Mecca and Medinah, 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 United Arab Emirates will see an annual increase in arrivals during the forecast review period of 6.9 per cent, 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 United Arab Emirates 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.

Ms Popova stated that in a climate of regional political and economic uncertainty, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates 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, with Saudi Arabia also benefiting from robust religious tourism demand.

Popova added 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.

Popova also said there will be an absolute increase in outbound trips from the UAE of two million between 2010 and 2015.

World Travel Market Exhibition Director Simon Press said: “The Middle Eastern tourism industry should take heart from these generally positive findings.

“Euromonitor International’s research shows the region’s travel and tourism industry is a strong position and will grow in global importance.”


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