Middle East should continue to invest in tourism, says WTTC CEO
Today at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2016 in Dubai, David Scowsill, President & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), called for continued investment in Travel & Tourism in the Middle East, as a means of diversifying economies as oil revenues fall.
Travel & Tourism is already an important sector for the Middle East region. In 2015, it generated US$194.5 billion or 8.0% of GDP and supported nearly 6 million jobs, which is 7.8% of total employment.
According to WTTC research, government spending on Travel & Tourism in the Middle East is set to grow by 2.6% in 2016, and 3.5% per year over the next ten years. Capital investment in the sector is forecast to rise by 5.2% this year and 5.4% per year to 2026. While these growth levels are slightly higher than the world average, the data shows that they are the minimum that is needed in order for tourism to grow sustainably and to ensure resilience for economies which are oil dependent.
In his speech Scowsill highlighted: “Our research demonstrates that rather than switching off investment in Travel & Tourism as oil revenues fall, countries dependent on oil income would benefit greatly from investing in Travel & Tourism, to further diversify their economies and to develop additional income streams.”
David Scowsill said: “it is critical that the public and private sectors together continue to drive growth through investing in transportation infrastructure, funding new hotels and tourism attractions, increasing destination marketing and continuing to improve visa processes.”
Despite significant challenges, particularly around safety and security in the region, Travel & Tourism performance has been strong. In 2015, 11 out of the 13 countries in the region experienced growth in the sector’s contribution to GDP, with Qatar showing the strongest growth at 23.7%, stimulated by tourism investment for the World Cup, followed by Kuwait at 13.4% and Bahrain at 7.6%.
Furthermore AHIC’s host country, the United Arab Emirates, is one of the leaders when it comes to Travel & Tourism performance. The sector’s contribution to GDP grew by 4.2% in 2015, well above the world average and reflecting many years of investment by government and private sector in Travel & Tourism. In 2015, government spending on Travel & Tourism was AED 27.4bn, 5.5% of the total, and capital investment was AED27.4 billion, 7.3% of the total.
Investment and funding drives Travel & Tourism income, and in 2015 the country’s Travel & Tourism income from visitors grew by 4.3%. The UAE is currently 28th in the world in terms of the size of its Travel & Tourism economy, with a total contribution of AED133.8 billion or 8.7% of GDP in 2015.
You can read the full speech here
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