Packing up your bags and booking those tickets to go away for the summer? Perhaps you should think again...with the UAE and Dubai looking all set to emerge on top of the heap as the tourist hub of the Middle East, even as the countdown begins to the annual Arabian Travel Market (ATM), ...

By Anupama V. Chand

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Published: Sun 18 Apr 2004, 2:46 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:32 AM

which will kick off at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 4th to 7th.

According to a recent report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which has analysed forecasts for 174 countries, all components of travel and tourism consumption are expected to grow 5.9 per cent in real terms, to a total of US $ 5.5 trillion in 2004. Ten-year annualised growth (2005-2014) is forecast at 4.5 per cent per annum, illustrating the outlook for a bullish recovery in 2004. Worldwide visitor exports are expected to grow 9.6 per cent over 2003 figures, while 3.3 million new jobs are expected to be created. And, looking at the bottom-line, economists point out that travel and tourism's direct contribution to the world economy is tipped to account for about 3.8 per cent of the total GDP, with the combined direct and indirect impact expected to total 10.4 per cent in 2004.

"The stage has been set for the travel and tourism industry to forge ahead to normal levels of growth following three years of uncertainty and reluctance by consumers to travel," said Jean-Claude Baumgarten, WTTC President on the report.

The report also gave a thumbs-up to the UAE and Dubai, where experts are predicting a rise from 12 per cent to 20 per cent, thanks to an estimated 15 million tourists a year by 2010.

In earlier media reports, Salem bin Dasmal, CEO of Dubai Tourism Development Company (DTDC), which is in charge of Dubai's biggest tourism development project yet - Dubailand, at a whopping Dhs. 18 million investment - pointed out that the project would bring in a return on investment of an estimated 200,000 visitors a day into Dubai's tourism and hospitality sector.

Meanwhile, the Oasis City of Al Ain, is also set to draw more tourists and at the end of last year, and according to Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General of the Al Ain Economic Development & Tourism Promotion Authority, following a year of growth, stimulated by the FIFA World Youth Cup 2003 and inter-regional travel, 2004 seemed to be a year of tourism growth, for Al Ain.

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