UAE Tourism Sector Eyes 40M Guests, Dh100b New Investments By 2031

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) The UAE seeks to attract new investment to the tune of Dh100 billion to the tourism sector and welcome 40 million guests to the country's hotels by 2031, a senior government official has said.

Khaled Al Midfa, chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, said the country's tourism sector contributed Dh220 billion to the gross domestic product in 2023, accounting for 11.7 per cent of the overall economy. This upward trend is expected to continue in 2024, with projections indicating the sector will reach Dh236 billion and account for an even greater share of the GDP at 12 per cent. The UAE's Tourism Strategy seeks to raise the sector's contribution to the country's GDP to Dh450 billion by 2031, said Al Midfa, who led a UAE delegation to the UN Tourism 50th Regional Commission Meeting for the Middle East in Muscat.

Industry experts said the upcoming unified GCC visa would allow member nations to present the region as a connected destination, boosting accessibility and driving KPIs such as length of stay, average spend and employment. Current and future infrastructure will complement the Unified Tourist Visa by enhancing accessibility within and between Gulf nations. In addition to ongoing investment in new and existing airports and cruise terminals, the upcoming GCC Railway will play a central role in facilitating and optimising region-wide access for both domestic and international visitors, they said.

The number of jobs the booming sector creates is expected to reach 833,000 in 2024. There are currently 1,235 hotels in the UAE providing a total of 210,000 rooms.

The World Travel & Tourism Council's 2024 Economic Impact Research report said jobs supported by the UAE tourism sector grew by 41,000 to reach more than 809,000, representing one in nine jobs in the country. While domestic visitor spending fully recovered in 2022, it continued to grow in 2023 to reach more than Dh 55.5 billon which is almost 40 per cent higher than 2019. International visitor spending surged by almost 40 per cent in 2023 to reach over Dh175 billion, 12 per cent above 2019 levels, reflecting the UAE's enduring appeal as a top global tourism destination.

"The UAE's Travel & Tourism sector has not only recovered; it soared to new heights, establishing itself as a cornerstone of the nation's economic landscape. The remarkable growth in both employment and visitor spending is a testament to the UAE's strategic vision and commitment to enhancing its Travel & Tourism. As the sector continues to set benchmarks for the global travel industry, it underscores the importance of sustainable and inclusive strategies in driving prosperity,” Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, has said.

Dubai will see the opening of 31 new hotels in 2024, and is expected to add 16 new hotels to the mix. This translates to a cumulative total of 851 by the end of 2024 and 867 by the end of 2025, a new report from Cavendish Maxwell says. Currently, Dubai has 150,291 rooms.

In the first quarter this year, Dubai attracted 5.18 million international visitors. In 2023, Dubai welcomed 17.15 million overnight visitors, surpassing its previous high of 16.73 million in 2019 and the 14.36 million recorded in 2022. Dubai International Airport surpassed pre-pandemic levels of passenger traffic last year, handling 86.9 million passengers. Forecasts suggest that by the end of 2024, this number could reach an estimated 88.8 million, nearing the record high of 89.1 million set in 2018.

According to the World Economic Forum's Travel & Tourism Development Index, the UAE ranked first in Mena and 18th globally in 2024. The UAE raised its score by 4.4 per cent in the 2024 index, climbing seven places from its 25th global ranking in the previous report issued in 2021.

The report ranks 119 economies based on a set of factors, and the index consists of five sub-indices, including the enabling environment, travel and tourism policy and infrastructure, infrastructure and services, travel and tourism resources such as nature and culture, and the sustainability of the travel and tourism sector.


Khaleej Times

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