Middle East Forecasts 33mln Leisure Travellers in 2023, Led by UAE, Saudi Arabia

The Middle East’s travel sector has made a full recovery since the global pandemic slump, with 33 million leisure visitors expected to travel to the region in 2023, a 13.8% increase from the 29 million recorded in 2019, according to the Global Travel Report by World Travel Market (WTM).

The recovery has been led by a strong performance by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, data from the industry report revealed.

Even as several Q4 forecasts remain subdued with the Israel-Gaza conflict entering its second month, the Global Travel Report, in association with Tourism Economics, names the Middle East as the only region to have fully recovered from the pandemic in terms of volume.

When measured in dollar terms, the Middle East leads the way in growth, with a 46% increase in inbound spend compared with 2019, the report noted.

The Middle East is also outperforming all other regions for domestic travel, which has grown by 176% since 2019. In the UAE, domestic travel increased by 66%, compared to 2019, with Saudi Arabia recording a 37% rise. The kingdom also saw inbound tourism outperforming 2019 by 66% in dollar terms, with the UAE registering a 21% increase.

The report also looks at tourism growth in 2024, saying ‘Saudi Arabia will lead growth due to new visa arrangements and continued capacity development’, with the kingdom opening up its visiting investor electronic business visa programme on November 6, which allows prospective investors from all over the world to apply to enter the country through the MISA platform, Invest Saudi. The visa can be used for one year and allows multiple entries.

In the UAE, Dubai’s ‘ability and desire to attract and host large-scale events of all types…’ The picture is similar for domestic, with Saudi and the UAE reinforcing their leadership position in 2024.

The long-term picture is also positive for the region and Saudi in particular. Over the next decade, the value of inbound leisure tourism to the country will increase by 74%, comparable with the growth profile for established markets such as Spain (74%) and France (72%), the report adds.

Source : Zawya

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