UAE, Saudi among world's top tourist hotspots to 2015

Euromonitor Int'l research says both GCC nations set for strong growth in next five years
UAE, Saudi among world's top tourist hotspots to 2015
The Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.
By Andy Sambidge
Tue 03 May 2011 06:33 PM

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.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.