Tourism is set to catapult UAE’s GDP growth
Tourism is gaining ground and is set to become big business in the UAE – thanks to a myriad of factors, ranging from mega entertainment and tourism attractions being planned, unbelievable shopping avenues on offer, world-class infrastructure in place and proactive government support to boost tourists’ inflow into the country. No wonder, the total contribution of the travel and tourism sector to the UAE’s gross domestic product is expected to touch AED 122 billion or 8.5 per cent in 2014, a 4.5 per cent year-on-year increase compared to 2013, according to research by the World Travel & Tourism Council.
There are a whole range of contributors to this amazing growth, be it the tremendous spurt in the number of hotels, or increased connectivity for local and international airlines to the various destinations across the UAE, or a wide array of leisure attractions which has brought in tourists in hordes.
If one has an overview of the direct contribution of the sector to the GDP, this is set to climb to AED 59 billion this year, an increase of 4.7 per cent. In 2013, this was in the region of AED 56.5 billion.
Looking ahead, the direct contribution is set to increase by 3.1 per cent a year to AED 80.1 billion by 2024, maintaining a four per cent of GDP figure. The total overall contribution of the sector is expected to grow by 3.2 per cent to AED 167.4 billion by 2024, 8.5 per cent of GDP.
Alpha Tours, the leading destination management company in the Arabian Gulf, is bullish about the sector’s growth and is set to play a pivotal role in this trajectory. The company, which offers unmatched entertainment options, extends some of the best cruise destination consultancy and management, air charter operations, eco-tourism programs, tours and excursions, leisure group programs, medical tourism, hotel reservations services and is a major player in the local tourism sphere.
Mr. Ghassan Al Aridi, Founder and CEO of Alpha Tours, says that the sector is set to take centre stage – thanks to a host of factors working towards it. “UAE has always been a sought-after destination for the tourists across the world, and the heightened focus on tourism by the government will augur well for the country in the years to come.”
He said that the tourists’ influx is set to grow over the coming 5-10 years, adding that conservative estimates put the international tourist arrivals to reach 39.9 million by 2024, which will generate an expenditure of AED 105.4 billion. “With existing hotels in Dubai trading at high levels of performance, there is already demand for additional rooms. We now expect an additional surge in proposed supply in all sectors of the market, with Dubai World Central (DWC) airport emerging as a third major cluster of hotels in Dubai,” he added.
The increase comes as Dubai heads towards Expo 2020 with increasing investments being made by the private and public sector into hotels and the Expo 2020 site in Dubai World Central. Abu Dhabi is also investing in building its tourism profile, which includes the construction of the Louvre and the Guggenheim on Saadiyat Island.
“Overall, the trend is quite positive, and we are looking to a major spurt in the sector. Winning the right to host Expo 2020 will help catapult the travel and tourism industry in the UAE to unprecedented levels. To understand the truth behind this statement, all we need to do is look at what the World Expo 2010 did for Shanghai. The event saw over 70 million visitors, boosted China’s tourism market and tourist spending significantly and augmented the city’s GDP. Why can’t we see an encore in the UAE with Expo 2020,” summed up Mr. Ghassan Aridi.
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