The tourism industry in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region is expected to reach $350 billion by 2027, according to Mena Research Partners, a leading research company in the region.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5 per cent over the next 10 years. Currently, the UAE and Saudi Arabia account for around 50 per cent of the Mena tourism market.
The travel and tourism sector in the GCC now outperforms global tourism indicators in terms of growth and spending. The projected CAGR of tourism contribution to GDP is 5 per cent for the GCC, compared to 3.8 per cent worldwide. Additionally, the leisure and business spending growth for the next 10 years is expected to increase at an annual rate of 4.6 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively, compared to worldwide averages of 4.1 per cent and 3.2 per cent.
The key regional industry drivers are the leisure and religious tourism sectors. Leisure tourism generated approximately $115 billion to the region in 2017 with Dubai attracting 15 million visitors in 2017 and being ranked as the sixth most visited city in the world. UAE is expected to account for 90 per cent of leisure tourism in the area following the opening of multiple leisure attractions. The Mena region also has one of the highest demands for religious tourism due to its holy places. Saudi Arabia attracts millions of pilgrims each year for Hajj & Umrah journeys.
Moreover, medical and business tourism are emerging in the region, with the Middle East currently considered one of the fastest growing markets for these segments.
Anthony Hobeika, chief executive officer at Mena Research Partners (MRP), said: “Increasing healthcare costs in Western countries are the primary drivers of this growth boosting the medical tourism sector in the Middle East. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the main cities to attract medical tourism due to their large network of international hospitals. Advanced healthcare centres and research departments allow Dubai and Abu Dhabi to be ranked the 16th and 25th for the medical tourism index respectively.”
In the wider region, Egypt and Lebanon are also making names for themselves as medical tourism destinations thanks to their advanced medical markets and affordable pricing.
Nurturing the cultural heritage also spurs growth for tourism in the region with the opening of The Louvre museum and several other cultural projects in Abu Dhabi.
The extensive use of internet across platforms has shifted the fundamental structure of the industry demand towards online booking for tickets and tours. The digitalisation wave had its biggest effect on the travellers from UAE and Saudi Arabia with more than half of their travellers booking their trips online. – TradeArabia News Service