Travel and tourism sector will continue to play a vital role in the UAE's economy, giving fillip to its GDP. The sector is estimated to create thousands of new jobs over the next eight years, thanks to a host of factors, especially new retail, leisure and entertainment offerings and medical tourism.
Overall, 77,400 new jobs will come up in travel and tourism sector across the UAE. It means the number of people working in the travel and tourism sector will increase from 317,300 in 2016 to 394,700 by 2026 in the UAE, according to World Travel and Tourism Council report.
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In Dubai, the number of residents working in T&T are projected to increase from 169,100 in 2016 to 223,600 by 2026, creating 54,500 new jobs in the emirate over the next eight years. This means around 12.2 per cent of people in Dubai will be working in the tourism by 2026 as against 10.8 per cent in 2016, according to the report.
"Expo 2020, expansion of the emirate's retail, attractions, leisure and entertainment offerings, new mega projects, and further development of Al Maktoum International Airport are expected to fuel the growth in travel and tourism," said Hamad Buamim, president and CEO, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In addition, Buamim believes medical tourism, and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) will strengthen Dubai's reputation as one of the world's most sought-after tourism destinations.
"Dubai has already made considerable headway in reaching its 2020 tourism goal as the emirate welcomed a record 15.8 million international visitors in 2017. This has been supported by the rising number of visitors in recent years from key markets such as India, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Russia and China, as well as progress in diversifying source markets. I expect this growth trend to continue as UAE-based airlines expand their reach to new destinations and boost Dubai's global profile," Buamim said.
Laurent Voivenel, senior vice-president, operations and development for the Middle East, Africa and India, Swiss-Belhotel International, said exciting leisure, family and cultural attractions such as Dubai Opera, City Walk, IMG Worlds of Adventure, Dubai Water Canal, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Etihad Museum, La Perle by Dragone and Dubai Frame have all further added to appeal as well as contributed to steep rise in leisure tourism.
He stated that the UAE's decision to grant visas on arrival to Chinese and Russian tourists has also significantly increased the number of visitors.
The "Middle East and Africa - City Travel and Tourism Impact 2017" report by WTTC projected that UAE's travel and tourism GDP will increase from $18.7 billion in 2016 to $34.6 billion by 2026, growing by 6.4 per cent during the period.
The report forecast that the sector's contribution into the emirate's GDP will increase from $11.4 billion, or 9.4 per cent, in 2016 to $20.9 billion, or 10.6 per cent, by 2026. Dubai currently commands 60.9 per cent share of UAE's tourism GDP.
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According to WTTC, Dubai witnessed the second highest international spend of city travel and tourism of 87.6 per cent in 2016 among the regional cities.
The report said that Dubai and Abu Dhabi were the fastest growing cities outside of Asia, helped primarily by international demand. They are linked to rising demand from Asia but also benefited greatly from improved connectivity. Both cities are home to important hub airports for airlines on intercontinental routes.
The "Middle East and Africa - City Travel and Tourism Impact 2017" report sees strong 6.3 per cent and 2.8 per cent growth in overall GDP and employment, respectively, during 2016-26 period.
By Waheed Abbas
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