UAE tourism sector to hit Dh237b
UAE's tourism and leisure sector, a key pillar to prop the nation's post-oil economy, is projected to reach Dh237 billion by year 2026 on the back of an exponential growth in tourism and hospitality infrastructure as the Emirates keeps on track to witness a record surge in visitor traffic over the next decade.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi have already grabbed international spotlight as among most sought-after travel destinations and the fastest-growing cities in the world respectively while other emirates have been stepping up the drive to woo holiday-makers with a plethora of new touristic attractions.
The UAE Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri estimates that the tourism sector would contribute 5.4 per cent annually over the next 10 years to reach Dh236.8 billion by year 2026.
"The UAE has rich cultural heritage, natural diversity and the developed infrastructure that make it a strong competitor on the world tourism map," he said while stressing that the nation would need to employ potential human capital in order to develop the role of tourism in the economy, which is on track to emerge as the best-performing economy in the region in 2017-18.
Dubai, ranked the number one travel destination in the Middle East, also retains its position as the fourth most popular destination in the world for holiday-makers, while Abu Dhabi with a growth rate of 19.81 per cent is the fastest-growing city in the Middle East and the third fastest growing city worldwide, reinforcing the country's position as the most visited and fastest growing country in the region for the second year in a row, according to the eighth annual Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index.
Dubai has jumped to the top rank based on international visitor spending of $31.3 billion, far exceeding the second-ranked London, estimated at $19.8 billion. The findings of the index show that Dubai is firmly entrenched at the high table of global tourism and travel, according to Eyad Al Kourdi, senior vice-president and general manager, UAE, Mastercard.
Bangkok topped this year's list of the world's most popular travel destinations, pushing London to second spot, with Paris and New York rounding off the top five.
Apart from theme parks and a spate of other attractions, Dubai expects an addition of nearly 57,000 rooms in hotel and serviced apartments in the five years to 2020, when the emirate expects to host 20 million tourists per annum.
Hospitality analysts said addition of such massive capacity is expected to extensively scale up the country's hospitality sector. Large-scale international events including Expo 2020, upcoming tourist attractions, and a growing MICE market are likely to accelerate tourist arrivals to the UAE in particular and the GCC in general. International tourist arrivals to the GCC are anticipated to grow by 5.7 per cent annually in the next four years to 2020.
With the GCC hospitality industry remaining firm on its projected annual 7.6 per cent growth trajectory, the region is pressing ahead with projects with a combined value of $104.4 billion despite the headwinds posed by falling oil revenues, tourism industry experts said. A bulk of the tourism and hospitality projects underway are in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, collectively valued at $23.5 billion, as the region's hospitality market is expected to grow at a 7.6 per cent compound annual growth rate to $36.7 billion in 2020 from an estimated $25.4 billion in 2015.
According to a recent study, Dubai, where tourism remains the heartbeat of its economy, is expected to receive 15.27 million international visitors in 2016, an increase of 7.5 per cent over 2015. Official statistics show that a steady rise in visitor numbers indicates how the emirate's fascinating mix of iconic attractions is proving ever more compelling to today's international traveller.
As analysts have pointed out, Dubai's top rank based on international visitor spending highlights the city's vast offering as a family destination. In addition, it confirms Dubai's status as a destination that attracts repeat visits due to its evolving tourism offering, from popular shopping options such as malls to traditional gold and textile souqs plus new and upcoming entertainment venues such as IMG Worlds of Adventure and The Dubai Opera as well as Dubai Parks and Resorts.
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