WTTC: UAE travel & tourism sector to hit pre-pandemic levels this year

 Friday, May 19, 2023 


The 2023 Economic Impact Research (EIR) of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has announced that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) tourism sector is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023.

According to data provided by WTTC, the sector will contribute a total of AED 180.6 billion to the UAE economy by the end of this year, a report says.

This figure corresponded almost to the level of 2019 when the sector contributed 183.4 billion AED to the country’s economy, which means that in 2023 the sector was only 1.5 percent behind the pre-pandemic levels and represents ten percent of the total of the economic contribution.

In addition, the WTTC forecast shows that during this year the tourism sector will create nearly 7,000 jobs, surpassing the 2019 peak of 745,100, to reach more than 758,000 employees.

Regarding the GDP contribution in the travel and tourism sector, it had an increase of 60 percent even last year to reach almost 167 billion AED, which represents nine percent of the country’s economy.

During the same period, the sector created more than 89,000 more jobs compared to 2021, to reach more than 751,000 jobs nationally, surpassing 2019 levels by 6,000 additional jobs.

Last year, the UAE began to welcome again a large number of international travellers with the most arrivals coming from India (13 percent), Oman (eight percent), Saudi Arabia (eight percent) and the United Kingdom (seven percent).

At the same time, international visitors spent AED 117.6 billion in the national economy, thus marking a year-on-year increase of 65.3 percent, although 19 percent less than 2019 levels.

Meanwhile, domestic spending also increased by 35.7 percent year-on-year, reaching AED 46.9 billion.

In this regard, WTTC President and CEO Julia Simpson noted that the UAE is home to one of the busiest and most successful airports in the world, with Dubai International operating as a gateway to the Middle East.

She also emphasised that by the end of 2023, the contribution of the sector will level that of 2019 and in the near future the sector will create more than 114,000 new jobs, representing one in nine jobs.

The WTTC research also reveals that in the previous year, the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East contributed more than AED 1.2 trillion to the regional economy, representing a percentage of 25.3 percent below the peak of 2019.

On the other hand, WTTC expects that during this year the GDP contribution of the regional sector will reach more than 1.5 trillion AED or $413.2 billion.

Based on the WTTC’s Economic Impact report, last year the sector employed more than 6.8 million people across the region, an increase of 865,000 from last year, but still 8.7 percent behind the 2019 level.

The same authority said that this year this sector would manage to recover the jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic with only two percent behind the levels before the pandemic.

Moreover, in the next decade, it is predicted that the travel and tourism sector will reach a contribution of nearly 2.5 trillion AED and employ more than 9.8 million people as well.

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