A Signature Media Publication

Tourism from China to GCC markets to grow by 2021


Recent statistics released by Colliers International reported that Chinese arrivals to the GCC will increase 21% to 2021, rising to 2.5 million visitors annually. The data further predicts that Saudi Arabia will experience the highest proportionate increase in arrivals from China, up 35% on 2016 figures. The UAE will follow at 20%, with Oman at 12% and Bahrain and Kuwait at seven percent respectively.

GCC countries currently attract 1.9% of China’s total outbound market, up from 1.3% in 2012, however positive trends are expected to continue as 154 million Chinese tourists prepare to go abroad in 2018 and a predicted 244 million follow in 2022.

Keen to capitalize on this growing number, figures from ATM 2017 show that number of delegates, exhibitors, and attendees interested in doing business with China had increased 63% on the previous year, with the number of delegates arriving from China, up 28%.

Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said: “The outbound Chinese market represents a vast, untapped pool of affluent and adventurous travellers and the GCC has been a destination of choice for years. Owing to its many business opportunities and a new generation of leisure attractions, figures show the GCC is poised to further capitalize on these trends over coming years.”

The Colliers data follows four years of steady growth in Chinese arrivals to the GCC, spurred by the business, leisure, and religious tourism sectors. Further supporting this drive, over recent years, regional brands including airlines, hotels, and tourism bodies have opened representative offices across China.

Every year, almost 15,000 Chinese Muslims visit the two Holy Cities, and that number will increase as China’s Muslim population grows to account for 2.1% of the total population by 2030. Strengthening these ties, in 2017 Saudi Arabia loaned Arab artifacts from the pre-historic, pre-Islamic and Islamic periods to Chinese museums, further enhancing Chinese awareness of Arab culture.