Events crucial for Middle East to realize tourism market value of US$133.6 billion by 2028
DUBAI: Events for Tourism Growth will be adopted as the official show theme for Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2020, taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre from Sunday 19 – Wednesday 22 April 2020.
According to data from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the Middle East’s GDP is predicted to rise by 4.2% per annum to US $133.6 billion by 2028 – driven in part by additional tourists to the region as a result of mega-events, major sporting and political events, cultural festivals, concerts and MICE events.
Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Events of all kinds have become increasingly important drivers for international arrivals to the UAE, GCC and wider MENA region over recent years.
“With this in mind, ATM 2020’s spotlight theme will be launched as a platform to explore the impact events have on tourism growth in the region and to inspire the travel and hospitality industry about the next generation of events, while bringing together senior travel executives to meet and conduct business under one roof over four days.”
In the UAE alone, the major exhibition centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi experienced a 14% growth in footfall between 2016 and 2018, with Dubai World Trade Centre welcoming 3.4 million visitors in 2018 and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, combined with Al Ain Exhibition Centre – welcoming over two million during the same period.
Expo 2020 will be the largest event ever staged in the Arab World. Taking place from October 2020 to April 2021, 192 pavilions from countries around the world will be showcased, with over 25 million visitors – 145,000 visits for every one of the 173 days the site is open, expected.
Organisers of the event are predicting 11 million visits by people living in the UAE and 14 million from overseas visitors – most of whom are expected to be tourists. According to consultancy firm EY, this will provide a US$33.4 billion (AED122.6 billion) boost to the local economy – supporting the equivalent of 49,700 full-time jobs a year.
In Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030 has set aside $64 billion to invest in culture, leisure and entertainment projects over the next decade, according to a recent report from real estate firm Savills.
This investment combined with more relaxed access to visas are predicted to significantly add to the attractiveness of the country with entertainment activities in the kingdom predicted to attract 25 million visitors by 2021.
Curtis said: “Looking at 2018 alone, exhibitions across Saudi Arabia witnessed a 103% increase in visitation with a total of 61 major events taking place over 349 days. Last year was also a milestone in terms of sporting events for the country, with events such as the King Salman Tennis Championship, WWE Crown Jewel and Formula E taking place in the Kingdom.”
ATM, considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed almost 40,000 people to its 2019 event with representation from 150 countries. With over 100 exhibitors making their debut, ATM 2019 showcased the largest ever exhibition from Asia.