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Tue 3 Apr 2018 02:01 PM

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European tourists to the GCC forecast to grow 17% by 2020

New report says as many as 24.6 million EU residents will travel to the Gulf between now and 2020

European tourists to the GCC forecast to grow 17% by 2020

Arrivals from Europe to the GCC will increase 17 percent over the period 2018-2020, driven by extra flights, routes, competitive fares, and the rising number of mid-market hotels throughout the region, according to a new report.

Data published by Colliers International ahead of Arabian Travel Market 2018, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 22-25 showed as many as 24.6 million EU residents will travel to the GCC between now and 2020, an additional four million travellers when compared to figures for 2015–2017.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia continue to be the preferred GCC destinations for European visitors, together they are on track to welcome 81 percent of the projected business and leisure travellers.

The UAE is expected to receive 14.5 million, Saudi Arabia 5.4 million, Oman 2.21 million, Bahrain 1.72 million and Kuwait 738,000, by 2020.

Simon Press, senior exhibition director, ATM, said: “Historically, Europe and the GCC have enjoyed excellent travel and tourism links. Building on this, over the next three years, EU arrivals to the GCC will increase and we will see this in both the leisure and business segments.

“While European tourists have previously travelled to the GCC for its luxury resorts, the growing numbers of millennial travelers, middle-class tourists and corporate travellers on a budget, are slowly changing traditional market trends, as is the growth in affordable, mid-market hotels combined with an increase in low-cost flights.”

Besides Emirates’ new route to Stansted airport in the UK, flydubai is scheduled to start flying to Krakow in Poland this month, further extending the carrier’s Eastern and Central European network, to 24 destinations, including Belgrade, Bratislava, Bucharest, Prague, Skopje, Sarajevo and Sofia.

Furthermore, GCC hotel developers have turned their attention to quality mid-market properties with Dubai and Riyadh now home to a collection of four-star hotels flagged by names such as Aloft, Centro and Studio M.

This growth will continue with a 19.1 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) forecast in four-star development between 2018 and 2020.

Colliers data indicates GCC travel to Europe will grow 36 percent over the next three years, with a forecasted 8.5 million GCC residents projected to visit Europe.

Press added: “Travel to Europe will continue to be dominated by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which together will account for 93 percent of GCC arrivals to the continent. Germany, Italy, the UK, Austria and Switzerland have historically been the top European destinations for GCC nationals to visit.

“In the UK, the Brexit announcement has weakened the British Pound providing an additional incentive for Gulf tourists, while travel to Switzerland is dominated by GCC residents’ growing interest in medical tourism aided by the relaxation of tourist visa requirements.”

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