Skift Take

All the seven emirates in UAE have figured out that rapid development as a shopping, leisure and tourism destination is their way to grow in an oil-less future.

The UAE’s hospitality market is geared up to record 67 per cent growth in revenue to $7.5 billion by 2016, up from $4.5 billion in 2011 as visitor demand gains traction and new hotel supply enhances the existing tourism product, various industry reports suggest.

Tourist arrivals in the UAE are forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.3 per cent between 2012 and 2022, with hotel supply also expected to increase from the current 96,992 hotel rooms in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, to a total of 125,383 hotel rooms in 2016.

In 2012, the UAE drew an estimated 10 million tourists.

According to a report released by the World Travel and Tourism Council, the UAE accounts for 41 per cent of total investment in the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East. The report also predicted that the volume of investments in the tourism sector in the UAE would grow by seven per cent yearly.

“The UAE’s tourism map is now incredibly diverse. Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah are building on their own cultural foundations to present a series of unique individual products that, together with Dubai and Abu Dhabi, position the country as a cohesive hospitality hub, with varied appeal,” said Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, which is organising the Arabian Travel Market, or ATM, 2013.

The ATM 2013 road show series concluded in Dubai recently after a two-week calendar of educational seminars in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon and Oman.

The road show in Dubai, which was the largest event with 140 delegates, comes at a time when the UAE tourism receipts are forecast to surge over the next few years. The region is now entering a new era of stability and increased connectivity and expansion of existing infrastructure, ATM organisers said in a statement.

While Alpen Capital’s GCC Hospitality Industry Report forecast a 67 per cent growth in UAE hospitality market revenues by 2016, a recent Dubai Chamber study, supported by statistics published by Business Monitor International, puts UAE tourism sector growth at 6.5 per cent per annum between 2011-2021, with visitors from the Middle East, Europe and Asia Pacific the key source markets. Employment growth prospects for the sector are also buoyant, with a forecast annual real growth rate of around 4.1 per cent.

Dubai continues to build on impressive performance levels by recording occupancy of 80 per cent in the first 11 month of 2012, up two per cent on 2011, said Ernst & Young’s 2012 Middle East Hotel Benchmark Survey.

Dubai International Airport recorded total passenger traffic in the first 11 months of 2012 at 52.3 million travellers, up 13.1 per cent against 2011, with passenger numbers forecast to reach 56.5 million in 2012, and 98 million by 2020.

Abu Dhabi has recorded similarly buoyant figures with 2012 another record year according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which revealed that in 2012 it welcomed 2.3 million hotel guests to the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments, representing a 13 per cent rise on 2011 figures. Hotel revenues for the same period also increased by six per cent to $ 1.261 billion.

According to Reed Travel Exhibitions, Ras Al Khaimah’s plans to position itself as a nature-focused tourism destination are gaining momentum. By 2021, the emirate expects around 20 per cent of its GDP to be generated by tourism-related activities.

Oxford Business Group said Ras Al Khaimah is aiming to 10,000 rooms by 2016 with a $218 million commitment to tourism development from the government.

“Local government investment into infrastructure, private sector investment into creating world-class attractions, and major route expansion by the two national carriers is a three-way strategy that is paying dividends for the UAE tourism industry,” said Walsh.

The ATM 2013 has grown to become the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world.

New to the 2013 event, ATM is launching the Digital and Technology Day focusing on online travel developments and showcasing headline speakers from across the industry. Taking place again this year is the New Frontiers Award, which was created to recognise outstanding contributions to tourism development in the face of overwhelming adversity.

Industry Careers Day will wrap up the week providing the opportunity for visitors looking to make a career move to meet with the exhibitors’ HR contacts looking for their next recruit. ___


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