UAE tourism sector expected to contribute 12% to GDP in 2024

The UAE’s tourism sector contributed Dhs220 billion to the GDP 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 Dhs236 billion and account for an even greater share of the GDP at 12 per cent.

Speaking at the end of the three-day UN Tourism 50th Regional Commission Meeting for the Middle East in Omani capital, Muscat, Khaled Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), who led the UAE delegation to the meeting, said the tourism sector played a significant role in generating 809,000 job opportunities across various tourism activities and fields in the UAE in 2023. Projections indicate that the number of job opportunities will increase to 833,000 in 2024. He added that the UAE Tourism Strategy’s ultimate goals seek to increase the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP to Dhs450 billion by 2031, attract new investment in the tune of Dhs100 billion to the sector and welcome 40 million guests to the country’s hotels by the next decade.

The 50th meeting of the Regional Committee for the Middle East of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) held in Oman.

The event discussed the implementation of the action programme of the organisation during 2023-2024, as well as the priorities of the commission, which include medical tourism, tourism investment and means of funding joint regional tourism products.

UNWTO has reported significant growth in the Middle East, noting that international tourist arrivals surged to 36% above the pre-pandemic figures during the first quarter of 2024, marking a 4% increase from the same period in 2023. This robust growth follows a stellar 2023,where the Middle East was the first global region to surpass pre-pandemic visitor numbers, showing a 22% increase.

Data from the first quarter of 2024 shows other destinations worldwide also posting impressive figures. Notably, Qatar saw a 177% rise in arrivals compared to the first quarter of 2019, and Saudi Arabia reported a 98% increase.

Furthermore, tourism revenue in the Middle East has also seen a substantial rise, increasing by 33% compared to 2019 figures.

According to the recent World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Development Index (TTDI), the UAE has ranked first in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and 18th globally.

According to the report, 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.

The index provides a strategic benchmarking tool for companies, governments, international organisations and others to develop the travel and tourism sector.

The Middle East witnessed the highest recovery rates in the number of international tourist arrivals, 20 per cent above 2019 levels, while Europe, Africa, and the Americas showed a strong rebound, regaining 90 percent of 2023 movement compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.

According to the General Civil Aviation Authority recent data, the UAE’s civil aviation sector recorded remarkable growth in the first quarter of 2024, welcoming a staggering 36.5 million passengers.

This figure marks a 14.7% increase compared to the same period last year and highlights the sector’s remarkable growth trajectory.

The breakdown includes 10,723,639 arrivals, 10,874,232 departures, and 14,944,466 transit passengers.

The air cargo sector also witnessed a significant 32% growth in Q1 compared to the same period last year, handling a total of 1.1 million tonnes of cargo in Q1 2024. This volume comprised 269,526 tonnes of imports, 119,490 tonnes of exports, and 714,446 tonnes of transit goods. Notably, national carriers spearheaded approximately 68% of the total air cargo movement during this period.

Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director-General of GCAA, attributed this success to the collaborative efforts between the Authority and its partners at both federal and local government levels.

Al Suwaidi highlighted that these growth rates underscore the sector’s strength, competitiveness, and potential for continued advancement.

The strategic opening of new markets for national carriers, facilitated by 189 air transport agreements with countries worldwide, has been instrumental in fostering international partnerships and promoting the open skies policy.

Separately, Airport Show 2024 concluded recently its activities at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), after three days of fruitful discussion sessions, displays of innovative technologies, agreements and memorandums of understanding that will contribute to shaping the future of the aviation industry.

The show attracted more than 7,000 attendees, indicating overwhelming participation by all stakeholders in the industry in the wake of overall positive sentiment of growth in the aviation industry.

Source: gulftoday

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