The research, carried out by Euromonitor International, states that some 70% of the 25 million predicted visitors will be from outside the United Arab Emirates. It estimates that to accommodate this influx existing hotel stock will need to be doubled, warning “there are concerns about the potential oversupply of hotels after the Expo when visitors numbers will be hard to maintain.”
The UAE is highlighted in the research as a tourism bright spot in the Middle East, seeing an increase in visitor numbers this year compared with the rest of the region which is stagnant. The UK is the Emirate’s third most important source market after Saudi Arabia and India. In 2018, the UK will still be number three, although stronger growth will come from China, driven by “strengthening economic ties”.
Business and leisure tourism across the Middle East is helped by the region’s airlines and supporting airport infrastructure. Etihad, Emirates and Qatar airlines are leading the charge, although Euromonitor International adds that smaller carriers such as Oman Air, flydubai and Air Arabia are important players too.
The impact of “instability and unrest” on Egypt’s tourism is a drop in international visitors from 15 million in 2010 to 9 million in 2013, with receipts falling by 40% over the same period, says the report. Business travel from the GCC nations (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE) “remains relatively unaffected”, helped by an increase in flights from Dubai.
World Travel Market Senior Director Simon Press, who is opening the conference, said: “The UAE is a strong driver of global as well as regional tourism, buoyed by an impressive line-up of full service, low-cost and hybrid airlines. As travel patterns shift towards new markets, the Middle East is becoming front-of-mind for many tourism businesses.”
Hosted at Reed Travel Exhibitions’ Arabian Travel Market, WTM Vision – Shanghai takes place on 8 May and is the fourth in a series of six WTM Vision Conferences taking place across the globe in 2014.
The WTM Vision Conference Series started in Moscow on April 9, before moving to Sao Paulo (24 April) and Cape Town (2 May). After Dubai the series moves to Shanghai (8 May) and concludes in Rimini (9 October).
Delegates receive the Euromonitor International Report (worth £1,000) free of charge.