Middle East governments invest heavily in tourism
Incoming tourism in the Middle East is on an upward trajectory, matched by increasing investment in the sector. A positive outlook is predicted for the region’s tourism sector, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s “Economic Impact 2013” report.
Tourism contributed $76.6 billion to GDP in the Middle East in 2013, a figure that should grow by 4.2% in 2013. Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are seen as countries that are treating tourism seriously and investing to develop the sector. In the UAE, for example, industry investment will grow 12% from last year’s $22.5 billion. Dubai aims to double visitor numbers to 20 million by 2020 and triple tourism income to 300 billion dirhams (US$81.7 billion). It is focusing on three areas – family tourism, MICE and business travel.
In Oman, the government has injected $39 million into the development of the Dhofar province to promote its annual Khareef or monsoon festival, while room capacity is predicted to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 5.3% from now until 2016, boosting its current 5,331 rooms by another 2,000 by the end of 2013.
Qatar, meanwhile, is preparing to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. A $65 billion investment plan will see more than 85,000 new hotel rooms come on stream and Qatar is forecast to welcome 3.7 million visitors yearly by 2022. In Saudi Arabia, tourist arrivals are estimated to grow by 4% a year on average by 2022. The authorities have earmarked $80 billion for key infrastructure projects including airport expansion, railways and roads.
[pictured: King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) Development Project, Saudi Arabia]