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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.

Indian outbound to GCC expected to increase by 2021

Around nine million Indians are expected to travel to the GCC by 2021, according to latest figures from Colliers International.

Reports from the UNWTO suggest the outbound Indian travel market will grow to 50 million by 2021, with average spend per trip by Indian travellers also increasing – UNWTO statistics reveal India is among the top 12 source markets globally that showed double digit growth in expenditure in 2016 – visitor spend reached a total of US$23.1 billion in 2016, up 15.1% year-on-year.

All these factors and more will be showcased at the forthcoming 25th edition of Arabian Travel Market scheduled to take place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 22-25 April 2018

Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said: “Surprisingly, there are just over 65 million passport holders in India out of a population of around 1.3 billion. Still it is no surprise that the growth of the global travel industry is being led by Asian travellers and the Middle East region can expect to benefit, with Indian tourist arrivals expected to grow by CAGR of seven to eight percent.”

Over the five-year period from 2012 to 2016, average percentage of Indian arrivals out of total arrivals in Kuwait was 15.4%; KSA, 10.6%; Bahrain, 17.6%; Oman, 11.2%; and UAE 9.8%.

According to ATM’s official research partner, Colliers, by 2021, this is expected to increase to: Kuwait (17.12%), KSA (11.88%), Bahrain (19.26%), UAE (10.8%) and Oman (11.9%). India retained top spot on Dubai’s list of source markets for inbound tourism, with 1,478,000 Indian tourists arriving in the city between January and September, registering a significant 20% rise over 2016.

India is also attracting visitors from the GCC, which is a top source market for medical tourism, and is expected to grow, as an entire industry, to US$ eight billion by 2020 from the US$3.9 billion of 2016. While the west coast resorts, such as Goa, remain popular with Middle East travellers, given its close proximity to the region.

ATM 2018 has adopted Responsible Tourism as its main theme and this will be integrated across all show verticals and activities, including focused seminar session, featuring dedicated exhibitor participation.