The number of tourists to the Middle East will more than double by 2020, according to a report by the UN World Tourism Organisation.
The growth rate in the region will be almost double the world average taking the number of tourists arriving in the region to 136 million by 2020, up from 54 million last year.
According to the UNWTO, the number of tourists arriving in the Middle East in the first seven months of this year dropped 13 percent compared with the same period last year as a result of the global economic slowdown.
However, the UAE saw a tourism growth of 3% in the first quarter of this year, according to the UNWTO.
And in 2008 the region overall experienced tourism growth of 18.2%, which is expected to continue from next year.
The recovery is in line with the global tourism industry, which is predicted to be over the worst and recovery in 2010 looks likely according to the same report from the UNWTO.
Speaking at a seminar in Abu Dhabi, the UNWTO regional representative for the Middle East, Amr Abdel-Ghaffar, said:
“Generally speaking, the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries appear to be showing a fair degree of resilience to the global economic downturn.”
Abu Dhabi is aiming to more than double the number of hotel guests to 2.3 million a year by 2012, down from a forecast of 2.7 million earlier this year.
Dubai is aiming to attract 15 million visitors a year by 2015, which is about double last year’s figure.
“The impact of the A/H1N1 flu, coupled with the global economic crisis, is likely to boost regional and domestic hotel occupancies, as increasingly travelers may opt for destinations closer to home, within the region or even within their home countries,” Abdel-Ghaffar added.
The Middle East has 477 hotel projects, or 145,786 rooms, planned with more than half already under construction, according to a report by Lodging Econometrics, a U.S. research firm.