According to a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council, one of the leading global tourism bodies, Dubai has topped the list of global cities with the highest spending by international visitors in 2022, leaving behind Qatar’s capital Doha, site of the FIFA 2022 Football World Cup, as well as London, which make up the top three places.
The WTTC report, Cities Economic Report, says that Dubai has raked in USD 29.4 billion in international visitor spending so far this year, overtaking Doha where tourists spent USD 16.8 billion and London with USD 16.1 billion.
The report goes on to say that the cities that have recovered best, compared to 2019 in terms of international visitor spending, are Doha with a 21 pc rise in tourist spend, Orlando, Florida, with a 19 pc increase and Antalya in Turkiye with 15 pc growth.
‘‘It was in 2022 that cities began their true recovery, as travel restrictions were lifted and demand for international travel returned,’’ said Julia Simpson, president and chief executive of the WTTC.
‘‘As tourism recovers, overcrowding in some destinations is a risk. It is, therefore, important for cities to have the right policies in place to address it. Such policies ought to be enacted in advance before the problem comes to fruition,’’ Simpson added.
The report analysed 82 international city destinations and found that their tourism sectors’ recovery was well under way after the Covid-19 pandemic that had paralysed travel for nearly three years.
According to the report, 10 of the 82 cities analysed are projected to exceed pre-pandemic levels in terms of direct gross domestic product contribution by travel and tourism to their economies in the current year.
Doha is forecast for the largest increase from 2019, in terms of travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the city’s GDP, with an expected increase of 21 pc. In Europe, Warsaw is expected to record a significant 14 pc increase, while in the US, Orlando is projected to post a 10 pc increase over the same period.
The cities forecast to record the largest direct travel and tourism contribution to GDP this year are Paris with USD 36 billion, Beijing with USD 33 billion and Orlando with USD 31 billion, the report showed.
The travel and tourism sector will directly generate up to 8 pc of all jobs by 2032 in the cities analysed, up from 6.6 pc in 2019 and a low of 5.1 pc in 2020, underscoring the importance of city tourism in driving economic growth, the WTTC said.
This year, direct jobs in travel and tourism are expected to return to 2019 levels in 11 cities including Rio de Janeiro with 18 pc growth, followed by Johannesburg and Chicago with 13 pc growth each.
The travel and tourism industry will generate 126 million jobs globally over the next decade, becoming a critical driver of economic growth with its contribution to GDP growing faster than other sectors, according to the WTTC.
WTTC goes on to say that from this year to next, the strongest annual average growth in direct travel and tourism GDP is expected to be concentrated in the Asia-Pacific with Hong Kong, Bangkok and Jakarta being the top performers, the report suggested.
The Saudi Arabian cities of Riyadh and Jeddah are also expected to register strong growth, according to the report.
‘‘For millions of tourists around the world, major cities remain iconic global destinations. There’s still a strong appetite to experience the history, culture and energy that cities offer travellers,’’ said Simpson. “This year cities are recovering around the world, and we forecast that cities will continue to grow and thrive over the next decade,’’ she added.