Tourism has become lucrative business in Gulf region

DUBAI - Shaikh Tariq Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Authority, has projected an increase of 15 to 25 per cent in visitors in the Gulf region during this summer season, with around 80 per cent of tourists coming from the AGCC countries. This significant increase is expected as tourists are avoiding Asia due to the SARS crisis, and the West due to the events following the 9/11.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Sat 17 May 2003, 2:01 AM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 9:17 PM

He said: "Tourism has grown into a lucrative business in the region. The focus on the economic aspect has also become a Gulf trademark for the new millennium. The AGCC countries have increased spending on modernising their air fleets and upgrading airports to accommodate this trend. Many hotels and resorts have also been built."

He said Gulf countries have been developing their tourism infrastructure and Bahrain has recently spent around $2 billion and increased the sector's contribution of the GDP to 12 per cent.

Shaikh Tariq said most of AGCC delegates to the ATM agreed on the importance of seizing opportunities as shown by countries like Switzerland which utilised the UN announcement of Mountain 2002 year to promote and market Swiss history and culture. This, he said, helped to generate $10 billion in revenues for the first half of 2002.

He discussed several issues relating to tourism development and ways to attract more tourists, including a single visa clearance for AGCC visitors and forbidding the hike in prices for hospitality services.

He added: "The average daily expenditure for the AGCC tourist ranges from $90 in Thailand to $300 in Switzerland. I believe that anything between these figures would be reasonable for this region."

Shaikh Tariq expressed happiness over the first tourism authority initiative taken in the UAE and Saudi Arabia's prominent role in the ATM. The Kingdom has taken several measures to promote tourism.

Saudi nationals spend $3 billion per annum on outbound tourism. The Iraq war has created many problems, but, he said: "It's too early to judge. Kuwait, which is the first AGCC country to pay attention to its tourism sector in the '70s, will witness improvement."

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