UAE travel and tourism reaches new heights

UAE travel and tourism reaches new heights

WTTC report shows sector soaring past all previous records

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) 2024 Economic Impact Research has revealed a record-breaking year for travel and tourism in the UAE, with new peaks achieved across key metrics, including the sector’s GDP contribution, jobs and visitor spend.

UAE GDP Contributions
Last year, the sector grew by more than a quarter (26%) to contribute a record-breaking AED220bn to the UAE’s GDP, representing 12% of the entire economy. This exceeded the previous record set in 2019 by almost 15% and underscores the sector’s pivotal role in the nation’s economic framework.

The global tourism body is forecasting that the sector will continue to grow at pace in 2024 with GDP set to reach more than AED236bn and will continue to grow to more than AED275bn by 2034.

Travel and tourism Jobs in the UAE
The sector is also projected to employ more than 928,000 people in the UAE, with one in nine residents working in the sector. In 2023, jobs supported by travel and tourism grew by 41,000 to reach more than 809,000, representing one in nine jobs in the country. Although the jobs lost during the pandemic were fully recovered in 2022, today’s announcement shows travel and tourism sector jobs have now increased 11% since the 2019 highpoint.

Visitor Spend in the UAE
While domestic visitor spending fully recovered in 2022, it continued to grow last year to reach more than AED55.5bn, which is almost 40% higher than 2019. International visitor spending surged by almost 40% in 2023 to reach 175bn, 12% above 2019 levels, reflecting the UAE’s enduring appeal as a top global tourism destination.

International Arrivals to the UAE
According to WTTC’s knowledge partner ForwardKeys, international arrivals at Abu Dhabi and Dubai grew more than 9% above 2019 numbers last year. Flight bookings to Abu Dhabi for the second quarter of 2024 are also showing strong growth, 59% ahead of last year, while bookings to Dubai are up 13%.

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WTTC president & CEO Julia Simpson said: "The UAE's travel and tourism sector has not only recovered; it soared to new heights, establishing itself as a cornerstone of the nation's economic landscape. The remarkable growth in both employment and visitor spending is a testament to the UAE's strategic vision and commitment to enhancing its travel and tourism.”

Looking at the Middle Eastern as a whole, the region's travel and tourism sector grew by more than 25% in 2023 to reach almost US$460bn. Jobs reached nearly 7.75m. International spending grew by 50% to reach US$179.8bn and domestic visitor spending grew by 16.5% to reach more than US$205bn.

WTTC is forecasting that the Middle East travel and tourism sector will continue to grow throughout 2024 with the GDP contribution set to reach US $507bn. Jobs are forecast to reach 8.3m, international visitor spending is forecast to reach US$198bn and domestic visitor spending is expected to reach more than US $224bn.

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