New economic research released by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) shows tourism in the UAE is growing significantly faster than the world GDP growth average.
The findings will be discussed in detail as tourism leaders from around the world meet in Abu Dhabi for WTTC Global Summit, which begins today.
The tourism industry contributed 14 per cent to the UAE economy in 2012 – well above the global trend of nine per cent.
Taking account of direct, indirect and induced impacts, AED193.6 billion of the UAE’s GDP came from the industry in 2012 and that contribution is expected to rise by 3.2 per cent by the end of the year.
One in nine of all jobs in the country are resulting from the industry, which beats the global average of one in eleven jobs.
A total of 383,500 jobs were supported by travel and tourism in the UAE in 2012 and by the end of this year, the number is expected to further rise by 2.6 per cent to 393,500 jobs, compared with a global expected increase of 1.7 per cent.
Nearly a quarter – 23 per cent - of the country’s total investment in 2012 - AED82.8bn - was directed into the industry last year and investment is set to increase by an additional 12 per cent this year.
David Scowsill, president and chief executive of WTTC, said: “As the UAE looks to diversify its economy, it is fully embracing the social and economic benefits of tourism and reaping the rewards already from its strong investment.
“This is one reason why WTTC selected Abu Dhabi for our Global Summit.
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which is hosting the Summit along with Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national carrier, says the diversification of career opportunities which the tourism sector holds out for the Emirati workforce is a key element in the emirate’s plans to build a sustainable tourism industry.
HE Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general, TCA Abu Dhabi, said: “We are increasingly seeing Emiratis becoming involved in this sector, which has been identified as a key economic diversification driver in the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan.
“This involvement is taking the form of Emirati entrepreneurs launching their own tourism-related SMEs, with the help of the Khalifa Fund For Enterprise Development, others taking up posts within airlines, the airport, TCA Abu Dhabi, the hospitality sector and within Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company.
“We have activated a number of initiatives aimed at introducing UAE nationals to the diverse opportunities that exist within the travel and tourism sector and expect their participation to continue to grow.”
By 2023, international tourist arrivals to the country are forecast to total 25.8 million, generating visitor expenditure of AED207.1 billion, an increase of five per cent per annum.
Scowsill continued: “It’s clear that the industry is going to be a significant driver of growth and employment in Abu Dhabi for the next decade.
“Its purposeful sustainable tourism approach will see it achieve its full potential of becoming a world class tourism destination in the next ten years.”