Global tourism continues to grow year on year. The latest data from the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) showed the number of international tourists grew by 6% in 2018 to over 1.4 billion compared to 2017. In this blog we take a look at how the Middle East contributes to global increases in travel.
According to the WTO, the main drivers of growth occurred in southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, citing technology and economic prosperity as contributing factors.
The Americas, showed modest growth of 3% in 2018, with Europe (6%), Africa (7%) and Asia-Pacific (6%) performing strongly.
The Middle East however, showed an increase of 10% to 64 million travellers thanks to a number of factors. Improvements in airport infrastructure and airline connections are cited as major contributing factors as well as lower fuel prices and more efficient visa processing, helping stimulate growth.
What is the Outlook for 2019?
The WTO forecasts continued growth worldwide and growth in the Middle East of approximately 5% for 2019. Stable oil prices continue to make travel more affordable, therefore improving connectivity across the region.
Global figures look set to continue their upward trend with growth of 3% to 4%.
How is Performance Across the Region?
Saudi Arabia, the largest destination in the MENA region added over 5 million international arrivals to 21 million in 2018, as the country’s Saudi National Transformational Plan 2020 helping offer a more seamless visa application process to non-residents of the Kingdom.
Projects at the Red Sea, Al-Gidya and Neom look to develop Saudi Arabia as a regional player in the tourism industry in the coming years as it looks to diversify its economic reliance on away from oil dependency.
Egypt also showed strong performance, thanks in part to political stability and growth in travel from European markets, in particular, Germany.
Egypt’s ‘People to People’ campaign, has been seen as successful thanks to its focus on Egyptian heritage, culture and people.
Other areas in the Middle East which have seen moderate growth are Lebanon and Oman, both benefiting from newly implemented tourism e-visas, thanks mainly to an influx in tourism from Russia, China and India.
Growth in Dubai was flat during with growth increasing from 15.8 to 15.9 million travellers from 2017 to 2018.
Dubai will host The Expo 2020 which is set to increase tourism in the country significantly. Cultural events such as the Ajman run and Ras Al Khaimah’s ‘world’s longest zip line’ show the UAE is not slowing down when it comes to innovative ways to help drive continued growth in business and travel.
How did the Kingdom of Bahrain Perform?
The Kingdom of Bahrain, in line with regional growth, saw an increase from 4 million visits in 2017 to 4.4 million visits in 2018, growth of 10%. Thanks to improved infrastructure, stable oil prices, growing interest in the Formula 1 event as well as continued intraregional travel in particular from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The International Airport, currently undergoing a $1billion multiphase development will have the capacity to accommodate 14 million passengers per year and will include a 4,600m2 departure hall, 104 check-in desks as well as 24 security and 36 passport control booths.
What Level of Tourism Does the MENA Region Contribute Globally?
MENA accounts for 6% of the global tourism earnings, made up from visitor expenditure including: accommodation; food; beverage; shopping and transportation spend which is estimated to be worth in excess of 88 billion (USD).
Political stability, investment in tourism, improved infrastructure, digital visa processes and improved security will help continue the upward trend of travel across the Middle East.
What Does This Mean for Investors?
Thanks to greater levels of travel to the region, intraregional business relationships and national campaigns, travel continues to drive interest to investors in property and business as well as tourism.
Flexible offerings from banks to non-residents of MENA countries as well as greater levels of awareness of real estate offerings as a result of travel help developers increase a more diverse investor portfolio.
Overall the Middle East is thriving and thanks to partnerships with Roberto Cavalli and Paramount Hotels and Resorts, new offerings, continue to give tourists further reasons to travel and visit the Kingdom of Bahrain.
We’ll continue to provide further news and information across the region on a variety of subjects. If there’s any particular subjects you’d like to hear more about, kindly contact us through our website, or by messaging us on any of our social media channels.