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July 6, 2009
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Gulf travel sector to bounce back




The Middle East’s travel and tourism market is expected to rebound quickly from the economic downturn according to 'EuroMonitor’s Future Trends for Travel and Tourism in the Middle East' research showcased at Arabian Travel Market in May.

 

According to EuroMonitor, there were 67 million arrivals into the Middle East and North Africa in 2008, accounting for US$50 billion in tourist receipts. Annual growth is forecast at 6.7 percent, compared to 2.7 percent worldwide.

 

The survey showed that the region will continue to enjoy GDP growth in 2009, although not at the record levels experienced in 2008. Continued government investment in infrastructure to maintain domestic demand was listed as a key factor in sustained future growth.

 

Saudi Arabia remained the leading tourism market, attracting 11.6 million arrivals in 2008 and achieving US$5.3 billion in tourism receipts. The UAE closely followed with US$4.8 billion in revenue generated from 8.8 million arrivals. Qatar received 2.3 million arrivals with a visitor spend totalling US$2.5 billion, while Oman saw 900,000 tourists spending US$600 million. Kuwait has the smallest tourism market of the GCC, with 100,000 arrivals and US$400,000 in tourist receipts.

 

Intra-regional travel will continue to lead the way, accounting for over 40 percent of all travellers and growing. Internationally, the UK will remain the region’s leading source market, with four million travellers. Key emerging source markets were listed as China, Brazil, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

With the majority of the population under 35 years old, the potential for travel and tourism spending in the years ahead is expected to boom as this young generation reaches its mid-fifties.

 

Trends expected include demand for low cost carriers (LCCs), budget and short breaks, as well as demand for customised travel retail, health and wellness. At present, there is a less than five percent market penetration of LCCs for UAE air sales, so this is seen as a prime potential growth sector.

 

Some 325 hotels are in the pipeline for development and, as with the aviation sector, EuroMonitor sees the budget and mid-tier markets showing most growth, along with increasing demand for Islamic brands.

 

Survey highlights

 

  • 67 million arrivals into the Middle East and North Africa in 2008
  • US$50 billion in tourist receipts in 2008
  • Annual growth forecast at 6.7 percent, compared to 2.7 percent worldwide
  • 11 percent inflation in Middle East
  • 68 percent of population under 35
  • Intra-regional travel still accounts for 40 percent of travel
  • Italy to be fasted growing inbound market with 21 percent growth a year

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