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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.

GCC visitors on an increase to UK in 2016

Visitors to the UK from KSA, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain totaled 659,466 in 2016, an increase of 6.6%, amounting to almost 5,000 more visitors than the previous year. This data was released by Arabian Travel Market (ATM) which is scheduled to be held at Dubai World Trade Centre from 22-25 April 2018.

The UK welcomed over 350,000 visitors from the UAE; more than 150,000 from KSA; over 100,000 from Kuwait and just under 50,000 from Bahrain, which included nationals as well as expatriate residents.

Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said: “The average spend per trip to the UK by visitors from KSA, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain, per person, ranged from US$1,150 to US$3,153 in 2016. With a choice of 32 weekly direct flights to the UK, visitors from Saudi Arabia alone spent US$485 million in 2016, the highest average spends per visit of any of the UK’s source markets. Because GCC currencies are pegged to the US dollar, (Kuwait’s dinar is pegged to a basket of currencies including the US Dollar and the Euro) outbound travellers from the GCC to the UK continue to take advantage of the dollar to sterling exchange rate. In June 2015, the UK pound was worth US$1.59, today it is around US$1.33, a fall of over 16%.”

The report was conducted by Colliers International. As per the report, London is the most popular destination in the UK, recording almost 3.5 million room nights, compared to 3.9 million for the rest of England, 321,000 in Scotland, 215,000 in Wales, and almost 12,500 in Northern Ireland, in 2016.

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was GBP209 bn, 10.8% of GDP in 2016, and is forecast to rise by 2.2% in 2017, and to rise by 2.3% pa to GBP268.4bn, 11.4% of GDP in 2027, by which time international tourist arrivals are forecast to reach over 54 million generating expenditure of GBP42bn, an increase of 3.8% pa.

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.

TIME Hotels debuts in Qatar

Qatar will soon welcome TIME Hotel Managements new four-star hotel – TIME Rako.

The Company’s first property will feature 102 rooms and suites and is scheduled to open in Q2 of 2017. This will be a first-of-its kind four-star product for Qatar’s mid-range market.

The opening is also part of the Company’s huge expansion programme which extending its footprint to Ajman and Fujairah in the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia, before end of Q4 of 2018.

According to a report from Colliers International, supply of internationally branded mid-scale and economy rooms in Doha is expected to reach 1,600 by 2020

Facilities at the property include a specialty seafood restaurant with capacity for 84 covers (both indoor and outdoor seating options). The rooftop boasts is a lounge bar with a large outdoor terrace, seating over 106 guests. The hotel will also offer three multi-purpose rooms suitable for a range of event types including the banqueting facility for up to 500 guests.