By Andy Sambidge
Euromonitor Int'l research says both GCC nations set for strong growth in next five years
The UAE and Saudi Arabia will experience some of the world's strongest inbound tourism growth over the next five years, according to new research revealed on Tuesday.
Euromonitor International's Travel and Tourism Global Overview report tips Saudi Arabia to see compound annual growth rates of 12.3 percent for arrivals over 2010-2015 which will result in an additional 9.3 million visitors to the country.
This makes Saudi Arabia the fifth largest country in terms of absolute arrivals growth over the forecast review.
Euromonitor said the growth would be driven mainly by the religious tourism to Makkah and Medinah, supported by infrastructure developments in air transportation and travel accommodation.
The UAE will see an annual increase in arrivals during the forecast review period of 6.9 percent, Euromonitor added, resulting in 3.6 million new arrivals, being the 14th largest country in terms of absolute arrivals growth over 2010-2015.
"Significant infrastructure developments are taking place in the United Arab Emirates which are expected to contribute significantly to the growing number of arrivals to the country," the report said.
It added that Dubai was set to seal its position as a global air transportation hub upon the opening of the world's largest airport, Al Maktoum Airport, with a capacity of 160 million passengers a year.
Analyst Nadejda Popova said that in a climate of regional political and economic uncertainty, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been "capable of dealing with challenging external events as demonstrated by the resilience of their respective travel and tourism industries".
Popova added the expansion of the hotel sector in the region could result in an oversupply as supply outpaces demand, which would impact rates and RevPAR.
The "contagion of instability" and oil price rises could be potential weaknesses, although Popova said that the UAE itself has remained "stable," during the region's recent political and civil unrest.
She also said there will be an absolute increase in outbound trips from the UAE of two million between 2010 and 2015.
World Travel Market Exhibition Director Simon Press said: "The Middle Eastern tourism industry should take heart from these generally positive findings.
"Euromonitor International's research shows the region's travel and tourism industry is a strong position and will grow in global importance."For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
it is purly religeous tourism nothing else. Having been there why would you ever take a family there for a holiday with the restrictive dress, segregation, women cant drive - we need to be realistic that tourism and religion need to be seperated with up to 5 million people visiting mecca or medana each yr it always will be high on a list but not real tourism
Mohamad, You have been spot on. How on earth has the Euromonitor International's Travel and Tourism Global Overview report declares Saudi as a tourist destination? With the exception of Mecca and Medina holy sites business visitors too would not prefer to extend their stay. As you have rightly pointed out let alone family even a bachelor would not go to Saudi with a lot of restrictions in place and no tourist spots absolutely.
Mel, Mohamad, have you ever tried to get a visa for KSA? is a nightmare.
Even with lot of wasta it may take weeks months or never come.
The article must refer to pilgrims and not tourists as you point.