The effects of the tourism sector on regional economies have proven to be paramount and have positively driven employment and income levels in the region. Globally, the tourism industry has had an increasing contribution to overall gross domestic product figures and this contribution is set to increase, especially in emerging markets, in the future. In 2005, travel and tourism spending exceeded US$5.9 trillion rising to US$6.5 trillion in 2006.
These issues were discussed today at the Dubai Property Group’s (DPG) monthly meeting which this time hosted Ahmed Ramadan, Managing Director of Roya International, a leading hospitality consulting company based in Dubai. Ramadan presented to over 120 real estate professionals international and regional statistics on travel and tourism, focusing on the UAE’s major projects and their economic consequences.
“The travel and tourism sector in the Middle East earned some AED96.8 billion in economic activity in 2006 which is expected to increase to AED170.7 billion by 2016. Capital investment in the industry crossed the AED30 billion mark thus accounting for 28 percent of total investment,” said Ramadan. “In the UAE, the industry grew by 5 percent which is better than the overall growth internationally. In 2006, 28.7 million passengers passed through Dubai International Airport while 6.44 million guests stayed in Dubai’s hotels. Projections show that 15 million tourists will visit the city by 2010 and the number of hotel rooms will grow to 110,000 by 2016.”
According to the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) the UAE ranked 18th in the world in terms of international tourism competitiveness which is benchmarked against the following criteria: safety and security, health and hygiene, infrastructure, information and communication, technology, price competitiveness, human capital, cultural and natural resources, air and ground transport, preordination of tourism and policy rules and regulations.
The positive effects of the tourism sector on the UAE’s economy are reflected in the fact that one in every 8.5 percent of jobs are travel and tourism related. This is expected to increase to 9.1 percent by 2016. Also in terms of exports, some 10.4 percent are travel and tourism related," commented Adel Lootah, Executive Director of Dubai Property Group. “The UAE and especially Dubai are now beginning to reap the benefits of investing in tourism, a policy which began with the establishment of the Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing department in 1997, followed by the launching of Burj Al-Arab in 1999 and the flood of hotels, resorts and entertainment facilities which came online since.”
Abu Dhabi is also leading the tourism thrust in the region where over the coming 10 years some US$10 billion will be investing in the sector. Abu Dhabi’s hotels generated some AED8.6 billion 2006 from 1.35 million hotel guests with an average spend of AED6,429 per visitor.
Independent of favor or influence, DPG represents the combined interests of Dubai’s real estate community. The Group’s 170 members include some of the highest profile real estate players in Dubai, such as the Dubai Development Board, Cluttons chartered surveyors and property consultants, Arenco Real Estate, Union Properties PJSC, Better Homes LLC and facilities management firm, Asteco Property Management LLC.
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