Tourism leads the bounce back

Travel and tourism should be “economic catalyst” to recovery
By Monika Canty
Tue 09 Nov 2010 12:00 AM

It’s official. Dubai is forecast to emerge from the recession this year, and much of the economic growth is down to the strength of the tourism sector.

According to figures from the IMF, the emirate will see economic growth this year of 0.5%. The IMF had previously forecast that Dubai’s economy would continue to contract thanks to its debt woes and the fall out from the property crash. But following a 1.3% contraction during 2009, tourism has grown “better than was anticipated at the beginning of the year,” and Dubai is now powering forward to economic  recovery quicker than was once anticipated.

The fact that Dubai’s tourism industry is playing such a pivotal role in its recovery only serves to justify our pick for number one spot in the Arabian Travel News Power 50  – congratulations to HE Khalid Bin Sulayem, director general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marrketing (DTCM).

There’s more positive news for the region in general this month with figures from IATA showing that the Middle East’s air travel market is booming too. Passenger traffic in the region jumped 23.9% in September, and regional airlines are carrying a third more traffic than they did prior to the recession. It just goes to underline again the vital role that travel and tourism  plays in economic recovery.

The situation in the Middle East seems a stark contrast to what’s going on elsewhere in the world, where tough times have brought news of higher airline taxes, huge tourism board budget slashing and strict austerity measures. VisitBritain, the UK’s tourism board for example, barely survived the chopping block in the UK government’s recent round of budget cuts, and will now operate under a severely reduced budget –  tough when you have Olympics to promote.

IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani has pleaded with governments to look at tourism and air travel as an “economic catalyst” saying: “Government actions can impact the sustainability of the recovery. Austerity measures will dampen demand.” Maybe its time these governments looked to this region as an example as how to place tourism at the forefront of economic recovery.

Monika Grzesik, is the editor of Arabian Travel News.

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