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UAE travel, tourism spending highest in GCC region at $27.4bln

September 22, 2022
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Saudi accounts for second-biggest travel, tourism spending among Gulf states

The UAE remains the top destination for travel and tourism in the region, with visitor expenditures reaching nearly $30 billion in 2021 alone, according to a new report.

Leisure and business visitors in the UAE spent a total of $27.4 billion in 2021, the highest among the GCC markets, Alpen Capital said in its latest GCC Hospitality Report.

Saudi Arabia came second with total spending pegged at $22.2 million, followed by Qatar ($16.5 billion), Kuwait ($5.5 billion), Oman ($2.5 billion) and Bahrain ($3 billion).

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia cumulatively accounted for more than 64% of the total travel and tourism spending within the region last year.

While leisure represented the biggest chunk of the travel and tourism spending, the share of business tourism in the UAE, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has been witnessing a significant rise. This was largely driven by the governments' efforts to promote their markets as a leading destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, according to Alpen Capital.

Leisure tourism spending

The UAE also had the highest share of the total leisure tourism spending in the region last year at 34.1%, followed by Saudi Arabia (33.2%) and Qatar (19.8%).

Visitor traffic to the UAE has been rising on the back of easing COVID-19 restrictions.

From January to July, the number of international visitors arriving in Dubai alone nearly tripled to 8.1 million from 2.85 million a year ago.

'The growth in the region's hospitality sector has been incredible with destinations increasingly opening up their borders and heavily investing in their travel and tourism efforts,' noted Ghazi Mousharafieh, Chief Financial Officer, Rotana Hotel Management Corporation, UAE.

'In the UAE alone, the recovery has been tremendous particularly due to the impact of [Expo 2020] that further established the country as a safe travel destination,' Mousharafieh wrote in the report.

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