By Beatrice Thomas
The massive growth rate of 11.9% compares to global average of 5.4% & GDP growth of 3.4%
The Middle East’s travel sector is predicted to grow at 11.9 percent a year over the next decade, almost twice the global average, according to a new report.
Highlighting the region’s rapid rebound from the global financial crisis, the report by global travel technology solutions firm Amadeus found global overnight visitor flows are expected to grow at 5.4 percent a year over the next decade, significantly faster than forecast global GDP growth of 3.4 percent.
However, it found the Middle East and Africa region was expected to witness even higher growth at an annual rate of 11.9 percent - a few percentage points above the 8.4 percent growth registered over the previous 10 years.
Speaking at Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Antoine Medawar, Amadeus vice-president MENA, said: “It is encouraging to see such positive forecasts for our region. We can all feel optimistic signs of growth in the travel sector across most countries in the region, which is certain to have a halo effect on overall GDP.”
Written by Oxford Economics, the Amadeus-commissioned report forecast a 7.6 percent growth in outbound travel spend for the Middle East and Africa over the next 10 years - ahead of Europe and the Americas but behind the substantial 17.9 percent growth expected for Asia.
The Gulf region, due to its geographical position and the ambitious growth plans by its main international airlines was set to benefit from this “Asian effect”, the report said.
“These statements may not come as a surprise to many but it is the relative scale of growth that is so impressive,” said Medawar.
“Point to point traffic may be growing, but at the same time, airports are competing to be regional hubs. Hub airports in the Middle East have profited from their strategic location between Asia, Africa, and Europe in attracting long-haul transfer passengers, with Dubai airport leading the pack and bold leadership to invest in airport infrastructure and fleets.”
The report noted that while the volume of international transfer long-haul origin and destination passengers across major European and North American hubs had been growing relatively modestly over the past five years, at eight percent in North America and 10 percent in Europe, the number of such transfer passengers flying through Middle East hubs had leapt 79 percent over the same period.
Providing a preview of a soon-to-be-released report on the future of travel in the GCC, commissioned by Amadeus and developed by Frost & Sullivan and Insights, Medawar said the under-15 population in the region, which represented approximately 21 percent of the total - and was as high as 30 percent in Saudi - was a prominent influencer in the future of travel in the region.
It said the new generation – the “first-time” or “coming-of-age” travellers - will join the global travel pool looking for new experiences, with their travel behaviour likely to be heavily influenced by technology and social media.
To be officially released later this month, Amadeus said the report will “reveal drivers that usher in a radical change in the travel landscape of the GCC region”.