Bahrain is predicted to benefit most from influx of Indian visitors over next four years - research
Around nine million Indians are expected to travel to the GCC by 2021, according to new research by Colliers International.
Ahead of the Arabian Travel Market, which is being held at Dubai World Trade Centre in April 2018, the research said that Bahrain is expected to see the biggest increase in Indian tourists, up by more than 19 percent.
Kuwait (17.1 percent), Saudi Arabia (11.8 percent), the UAE (10.8 percent) and Oman (11.9 percent) are all forecast to see double-digit rises by 2021, Colliers said.
India retained top spot on Dubai’s list of source markets for inbound tourism, with 1,478,000 Indian tourists arriving in the city between January and September, registering a 20 percent rise over the same period in 2016.
The increase can also be attributed to relaxed visa restrictions for Indian passport holders, which is currently under further consideration, including the possibility of extending on-arrival visas to Indians.
In Bahrain, Indians are eligible for Visit-e-Visa, which means there is no need to have a physical visa stamped in their passports prior to arrival in the country.
Reports from the UNWTO suggest the outbound Indian travel market will grow to 50 million by 2021, with the average spend per trip by Indian travellers also increasing.
Simon Press, senior exhibition director, ATM, said: “Surprisingly, there are just over 65 million passport holders in India out of a population of around 1.3 billion. Still it is no surprise that the growth of the global travel industry is being led by Asian travellers and the Middle East region can expect to benefit, with Indian tourist arrivals expected to grow by CAGR of 7-8 percent."
Press added: “The influx of Indian visitors to the GCC shows no sign of abating and is expected to continue rising, with the added benefit of an increase in the average spent by Indians on outbound travel.”
The Colliers research reveals Indian outbound travel growth is to be driven by the middle-income households rather than the higher-income as the former is expected to grow to nearly 20 percent (58 million) of the total Indian households by 2021, while the latter will represent less than 3 percent (6.5 million).
India is also attracting visitors from the GCC, which is a top source market for medical tourism, and is expected to grow, as an entire industry, to $8 billion by 2020 from the $3.9 billion of 2016.
ATM, considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed over 39,000 people to its 2017 event, including 2,661 exhibiting companies, signing business deals worth more than $2.5 billion over the four days.