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Regional tourism

Middle East 'leading world travel industry boom in 2024'

DUBAI, April 11, 2024

In a year poised to mark a historic zenith for the travel and tourism industry, and with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) projecting an unprecedented global economic contribution of $11.1 trillion in 2024, the spotlight shines brightly on the strategic initiatives and growth achievements of nations worldwide, said a report.

The Middle East, in particular, has emerged as a testament to the industry’s resilient and dynamic expansion, said Travel and Tour World.

This is underscored by the latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) indicating a robust 19.7% growth in demand within the region, alongside a slight improvement in the load factor to 80.8%.

This significant uptick in travel demand reflects the concerted efforts of Middle Eastern countries to elevate their tourism sectors through substantial investments, policy reforms, and infrastructure development, with Saudi being the biggest tourism investor in the world, the report said.

These efforts not only aim to surpass pre-pandemic levels of prosperity but also to secure a pivotal role in the global economic landscape as the sector ushers in an era of unparalleled growth and innovation, it added.

Highlights

Bahrain

Bahrain has showcased its ambition and commitment to becoming a regional tourism hub by investing over $10 billion into tourism projects in 2023 alone.

This significant investment has led to a 51% surge in inbound tourists, reaching 5.9 million, and generating $2.5 billion in tourism revenues. The increase in both tourist nights and inbound tourism revenues by 54% and 48%, respectively, underscores Bahrain’s growing appeal as a travel destination.

Egypt

Egypt has reached new heights in its tourism sector, with a record $15 billion in tourism revenues in 2023. The country has seen a 40% increase in tourist numbers during the first seven months of the year, setting ambitious targets of 15 million tourists for 2023, with aspirations to double this figure to 30 million by 2028.

Investment in infrastructure and efforts to enhance the tourist experience highlight Egypt’s strategic approach to attracting more visitors.

Israel

Israel welcomed 3.01 million tourists, contributing $4.85 billion to the economy in 2023. With an investment of NIS 340 million in public tourism infrastructure, Israel is keen on bolstering its tourism sector, despite potential challenges due to regional conflicts. A notable 57% of visitors were first-timers, indicating Israel’s growing popularity and the successful outreach of its tourism initiatives.

Kuwait

In Kuwait, over $60 billion has been approved for various projects, signalling the nation’s strategic pivot towards tourism as an alternative revenue stream. The country reported a significant rise in tourism, with an estimate of around 15.5 million passengers for the year 2023, showcasing the potential for substantial growth in tourism revenues.

Qatar

Qatar experienced a dramatic 143% increase in visitors in the first nine months of 2023, reaching 2.8 million. The country is on track to welcome over 6 million tourists by 2030, with a strategic $17.5 billion investment in major projects throughout 2023 aimed at enhancing its tourism sector and increasing its contribution to the GDP.

UAE

The UAE has announced plans for $23 billion in infrastructure investments, with a focus on transportation and roads. Dubai, in particular, set a new record by welcoming 17.15 million international overnight visitors in 2023, up 19.4% from 2022, reinforcing the UAE’s position as a premier global tourism destination.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia welcomed over 100 million tourists, marking a 56% increase from 2019 and a 12% rise from 2022. Achieving its tourism milestone seven years ahead of schedule, Saudi Arabia is now aiming for 150 million tourists by 2030. The country has invested over USD 800 billion into its tourism sector, with developments aimed at enhancing existing cities and destinations and developing new areas to attract visitors.

Oman

Oman saw a 38% increase in visitors in 2023, reaching around four million. The country plans to invest $31 billion by 2040 to attract 11 million visitors annually, with approved projects valued at $6 billion focusing on tourist sites, hotels, and transportation.

Ras Al Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah achieved a record in tourism in 2023, with 1.22 million overnight visitors, an 8% increase from the previous year. The growth is credited to strategic plans, investment in tourism infrastructure, and the development of a sustainable tourism ecosystem.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi announced a $10 billion investment in tourism infrastructure, with a strategy that includes 26 initiatives across offering activation, marketing, infrastructure, and regulation. The aim is to contribute Dh90 billion annually to GDP by 2030 and attract 39.3 million visitors annually, up from an estimated 24 million in 2023.

The IATA’s report on the Middle East’s impressive 19.7% growth in demand, coupled with the strategic investments and achievements of countries within the region, underscores a broader trend of recovery and expansion in the global travel and tourism sector. These developments highlight the sector’s critical role in driving economic growth, fostering innovation, and connecting people across the globe, paving the way for a future of prosperity, opportunity, and global engagement in travel and tourism.

 




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