According to a recent analysis, the UAE remains the region’s leading travel and tourist destination, with visitor spending hitting approximately $30 billion in 2021 alone. According to Alpen Capital’s newest GCC Hospitality Report, leisure and business tourists in the UAE would spend a total of $27.4 billion in 2021, the most among GCC markets.
Saudi Arabia came in second with $22.2 billion in total spending, followed by Qatar ($16.5 billion), Kuwait ($5.5 billion), Oman ($2.5 billion), and Bahrain ($3 billion). Last year, the UAE and Saudi Arabia accounted for more than 64% of overall travel and tourist spending in the gulf.
While leisure travel accounted for the majority of travel and tourism spending, corporate tourism in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar has been steadily increasing. According to Alpen Capital, this was mostly driven by the government’s attempts to advertise its markets as premier locations for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions.
Last year, the UAE accounted for 34.1% of overall leisure tourist spending in the area, followed by Saudi Arabia (33.2%) and Qatar (19.8%). The loosening of COVID-19 limitations has increased visitor travel to the UAE. From January to July, the number of international visitors to Dubai nearly quadrupled to 8.1 million, up from 2.85 million the previous year.
“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.