UAE travel & tourism sector to recover in 2023: WTTC

Sector to equal 2019 GDP contribution by the end of 2023
/ New Delhi
UAE travel & tourism sector to recover in 2023: WTTC
UAE travel & tourism sector to recover in 2023: WTTC

Dubai and Abu Dhabi continue to be major tourist magnets, says Julia Simpson

The travel and tourism sector in the United Arab Emirates is projected to meet the 2019 peak this year, says WTTC, adding that not only will the travel & tourism jobs surpass pre-pandemic levels this, but the travel sector will also outstrip national GDP growth over the next decade.
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The recently published World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2023 Economic Impact Research (EIR) underscores that the United Arab Emirates’ travel and tourism sector is forecasted to meet the 2019 peak this year.

According to a press statement by WTTC, by the end of 2023, the industry is anticipated to have contributed about USD 49 billion to the UAE GDP, nearly matching that of the 2019 levels and only 1.5 pc below pre-pandemic levels. This accounts for around 10 pc of the country’s GDP.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO

Julia Simpson

“The national travel and tourism sector is recovering at a rapid pace, proving the UAE continues to grow in popularity amongst international travellers. The UAE is home to one of the world’s busiest and successful airports, Dubai International, which acts as a gateway to the Middle East,” says Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO.

WTTC predicts that the sector will create nearly 7,000 jobs this year, surpassing the pre-pandemic peak of 745,100, to reach more than 758,000 persons employed by the sector.

Last year, the sector’s GDP contribution grew more than 60 pc to reach nearly USD 45 billion, representing 9 pc of the country’s economy. The sector also created more than 89,000 more jobs from the previous year to reach more than 751,000 jobs nationally, surpassing 2019 levels by an additional 6,000 jobs. The year 2022 saw the return of international travellers to the UAE, with India 13 pc, Oman 8 pc, Saudi Arabia 8 pc, and UK 7 pc, leading as source markets for international arrivals.

According to the data, in 2022, international visitors contributed USD 32 billion to the national economy, representing a year-on-year growth of 65.3 pc, although 19 pc behind 2019 levels. In terms of domestic spend, 2022 saw a 35.7 pc year-on-year jump, reaching a little over USD 12 billion, 10.6 pc above its pre-pandemic counterpart.

“The future for the sector looks positive. By the end of this year, the sector’s contribution will level that of 2019, and over the next decade, growth will outstrip the national GDP and create more than 114,000 new jobs, representing one in nine jobs. Our recent Cities EIR Report highlighted the appeal tourist destinations across the country, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, continue to hold for international travellers. These cities have shown incredible resilience and strong leadership,” adds Simpson.

An overview of the next decade

The global tourism body forecasts that the sector will grow its GDP contribution to USD 64 billion by 2033, representing 10.2 pc of the UAE economy. Over the next decade, travel and tourism is set to employ more than 872,000 people across the country, representing nearly 12 pc of all jobs.

In 2022, the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector contributed more than USD 326.7 billion to the regional economy, 25.3 pc below the 2019 peak. By the end of this year, WTTC forecasts the regional sector’s GDP contribution will reach more than USD 413.2 billion and be within touching distance of the 2019 highpoint.

According to WTTC’s latest Economic Impact Report, the sector employed more than 6.8 million people across the region last year, an increase of 865,000 from the previous year, but still 8.7 pc behind the 2019 peak. The sector will nearly recover the jobs lost during the pandemic by the end of this year, only 2 pc behind pre-pandemic levels. Over the next decade, the sector is projected to reach a contribution of nearly USD 680.6 billion and employ more than 9.8 million people in the region.

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