‘Tourism to account for 12% of UAE’s GDP’

UAE Minister of Economy said that the tourism sector is anticipated to contribute 12 percent to the UAE’s GDP, equating to AED236 billion…reports Asian Lite News

Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, Chairman of the Emirates Tourism Council, stressed that the tourism sector contributed to the UAE’s economy, registering an 11.7 percent increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2023, amounting to AED220 billion.

Speaking at the opening day of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2024, Al Marri said that the sector is anticipated to contribute 12 percent to the UAE’s GDP, equating to AED236 billion.

The 31st edition of ATM, being hosted at Dubai World Travel Centre (DWTC) until 9th May, discussed Gulf-wide collaboration, ease of inter-regional travel and infrastructure development.

Al Marri’s speech was followed by a panel discussion among Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority; Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority; Azzan Al Busaidi, Under-Secretary of Tourism at the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism in Oman; and Sarah Buhijji, CEO of the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority. The session was moderated by Dubai Eye presenter, Richard Dean.

During the in-depth discussion, the ministerial panellists explored the importance of inter-regional initiatives in elevating the GCC tourism industry to the next level, while striking the right balance between collaboration and competition between destinations and nations. The planned GCC Unified Tourist Visa was cited as a key facilitator for the region, alongside factors such as sustainability, infrastructure and culture.

Panellists said that the planned unified visa would allow member nations to present the GCC as a connected destination, boosting accessibility and driving key performance indicators (KPIs) such as length of stay, average spend and employment. Speakers noted they would continue to ensure that the travel industry positively impacts local businesses, communities and ecosystems, contributing to the long-term sustainability of tourism across the region.

Participants also explained that current and future infrastructure will complement the GCC Unified Tourist Visa by enhancing accessibility within and between Gulf nations. In addition to ongoing investment in new and existing airports and cruise terminals, the ministerial speakers highlighted the central role of the upcoming GCC Railway in facilitating and optimising region-wide access for both domestic and international visitors.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said, “While it’s clear that healthy competition will continue to play an important role in strengthening the GCC’s world-class tourism offering, it was also encouraging to hear how collaboration is enabling the region to become more than the sum of its parts in terms of attracting global travellers. We are immensely grateful to this year’s ministerial participants, who provided a diverse range of valuable insights into the region’s unified tourism future.”

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