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Fri 26 Jan 2018 12:43 AM

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Revealed: 2.5m Chinese tourists set to visit Gulf by 2021

New research shows Chinese arrivals are forecast to grow by 21% over next three years

Revealed: 2.5m Chinese tourists set to visit Gulf by 2021

Chinese arrivals to the GCC will increase 21 percent to 2021, rising to 2.5 million visitors annually, according to data released ahead of Arabian Travel Market 2018.

Published by Colliers International, the data predicts Saudi Arabia will experience the highest proportionate increase in arrivals from China, up 35 percent on 2016 figures. The UAE will follow at 20 percent, with Oman at 12 percent and Bahrain and Kuwait at 7 percent.

GCC countries currently attract 1.9 percent of China’s total outbound market, up from 1.3 percent in 2012, and positive trends are expected to continue as 154 million Chinese tourists prepare to go abroad in 2018 and a predicted 244 million follow in 2022.

Keen to capitalise on the potential, figures from ATM 2017 show the number of delegates, exhibitors and attendees interested in doing business with China had increased 63 percent on the previous year, with the number of delegates arriving from China, up 28 percent.

Simon Press, senior exhibition director, ATM, said: “The outbound Chinese market represents a vast, untapped pool of affluent and adventurous travellers and the GCC has been a destination of choice for years. Owing to its many business opportunities and a new generation of leisure attractions, figures show the GCC is poised to further capitalise on these trends over the coming years as millions of Chinese make their first international trip.

“Over the years, sentiment at ATM has reflected the growth in Chinese tourists to the GCC and today we have seen more businesses than ever before eager to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the Chinese market.”

The Colliers data follows four years of steady growth in Chinese arrivals to the GCC, spurred by the business, leisure and religious tourism sectors.

Every year, almost 15,000 Chinese Muslims visit the two holy cities of Saudi Arabia, and that number will increase as China’s Muslim population grows to account for 2.1 percent of the total population by 2030, the report said.

Strengthening these ties in 2017, Saudi Arabia loaned Arab artefacts from the pre-historic, pre-Islamic and Islamic periods to Chinese museums, further enhancing Chinese awareness of Arab culture.

In 2016 Emirates added to its China network with two new routes to Yinchuan and Zhengzhou, in addition to regular flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Emirates was the first airline in the Middle East to establish non-stop passenger flights to mainland china in 2004.

Etihad pioneered a codeshare agreement with China Southern Airlines in 2017 with a reciprocal loyalty programme due over the coming months.

ATM 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.

The show takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 22-25.

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