Wednesday 09, May 2018 by William Mullally

GCC tourism to continue to grow faster than global rate

The industry is expected to reach $350 billion by 2027.

The tourism industry in the MENA is expected to reach $350 billion by 2027, according to a new report. In addition, UAE and Saudi Arabia are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of five per cent over the next 10 years. Currently, the UAE and KSA account for around 50 per cent of the MENA tourism market.

The report also stated that the travel and tourism sectors of the GCC now outperforms global tourism indicators in terms of growth and spending. The projected CAGR of tourism contribution to GDP is five per cent for the GCC, compared to 3.8 per cent worldwide. Additionally, the leisure and business spending growth for the next 10 years is expected to increase at an annual rate of 4.6 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively, compared to worldwide averages of 4.1 per cent and 3.2 per cent.

“The key regional industry drivers are the leisure and religious tourism sectors. Leisure tourism generated approximately $115 billion to the region in 2017 with Dubai attracting 15 million visitors in 2017 and being ranked as the sixth most visited city in the world,” said MENA Resarch Partners’ report.

UAE is expected to account for 90 per cent of leisure tourism in the area following the opening of multiple leisure attractions, the report stated. The MENA region also has one of the highest demands for religious tourism due to its holy places. Saudi Arabia attracts millions of pilgrims each year for Hajj & Umrah journeys. Moreover, medical and business tourism are emerging in the region, with the Middle East currently considered one of the fastest growing markets for these segments.

“Increasing healthcare costs in Western countries are the primary drivers of this growth boosting the medical tourism sector in the Middle East. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the main cities to attract medical tourism due to their large network of international hospitals. Advanced healthcarecentres and research departments allow Dubai and Abu Dhabi to be ranked the 16th and 25th for the medical tourism index respectively,” said Anthony Hobeika, Chief Executive Officer at MENA Research Partners (MRP).

In the wider region, Egypt and Lebanon are also making names for themselves as medical tourism destinations thanks to their advanced medical markets and affordable pricing.

Nurturing the cultural heritage also spurs growth for tourism in the region with the opening of The Louvre museum and several other cultural projects in Abu Dhabi.

“The geopolitical situation in the Middle East since 2012 has reshaped the flow of the industry. Tourism within the MENA region, especially from Egypt and Lebanon, is now redirected toward UAE, Oman and Jordan. This redirection has lessened the negative political effects on the industry in the region and has had a positive effect on domestic tourism within the countries themselves, specifically in UAE and KSA. The region is overcoming the political issues, and tourism is therefore expected to have an impressive rebound,” Hobeika continued.


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