Tourism is an investment in the future
On the back of increased investment in travel and tourism infrastructure, the hospitality industry in Gulf countries is expected to grow to just under $25 billion (Dh91.95 billion) a year by 2016, according to a report by the Kuwait Financial Centre.
This is a substantial return on the investment by those countries that have been trying to reduce the reliance of their economies on oil revenue and create sustainable job opportunities for their residents.
The region has many natural, cultural, religious and man-made attractions that have been drawing leisure visitors as well as business travellers.
This is needed because even though the region has substantial oil reserves, which has served it well so far, they will be depleted at some point in the future. Volatility in the oil price also creates a fiscal problem for those Gulf countries which have increased expenditure on social security and services for their citizens.
Importantly, the report also notes that private companies have been playing a key role in the expansion of the industry, reducing the traditional reliance on government to expand economic activity in the region.
In the UAE, travel and tourism makes up approximately 14 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). This shows how much growth potential there is for other Gulf countries, where the industry is between 5 and 6 per cent of GDP.
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