Middle East Tourism Bounces Back Strong with 33 Million Visitors in 2023

Middle East Tourism Bounces Back Strong with 33 Million Visitors in 2023

By Staff Writer, 09 November 2023

The Middle East is gearing up for a thriving tourism resurgence in 2023, with an anticipated 33 million leisure visitors compared to 29 million in 2019, according to the latest findings from the WTM Global Travel Report.

This remarkable recovery of Middle East tourism can be attributed to the robust performance of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have played a pivotal role in revitalizing the industry post-pandemic.

In a year marked by a 13% increase in tourist numbers, the Middle East stands out as the only region to have fully rebounded in terms of volume.

The region is also leading the way in growth terms, with a substantial 46% surge in inbound spending compared to 2019, as revealed in the report published in partnership with Tourism Economics.

These insights were unveiled at the opening of WTM London, the world's foremost travel and tourism event.

The Remarkable Growth of Middle East Tourism

Domestic tourism within the Middle East is flourishing, boasting an impressive 176% growth since 2019, albeit from a lower starting point.

This achievement is underpinned by the relentless commitment of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to the tourism sector, viewing it as a strategic avenue for diversifying their economies away from a reliance on hydrocarbons.

Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have fully recovered from the pandemic in terms of inbound and domestic tourism. Inbound tourism to Saudi Arabia is surpassing 2019 levels by a remarkable 66% in dollar terms, while the UAE exhibits a substantial 21% increase.

When it comes to domestic visits, these nations are outperforming by 37% and 66%, respectively.

Looking ahead to 2024, the prospects of Middle East tourism for inbound and domestic markets continue to shine, with Saudi Arabia taking the lead thanks to new visa arrangements and continued capacity development.

Additionally, Dubai's reputation for hosting large-scale events of all types contributes to the region's allure. In the domestic sphere, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are expected to maintain their leadership positions in 2024.

The long-term outlook for the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia in particular, is exceptionally promising.

Over the next decade, the value of inbound leisure tourism to the country is projected to increase by 74%, a growth trajectory comparable to well-established tourism markets such as Spain and France, both at 74% and 72%, respectively.

Juliette Losardo, Exhibition Director of World Travel Market London, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, "The Middle East is one the most exciting and dynamic regions for tourism. The positive findings from WTM Global Travel Report show that the initial investments made in developing new tourism infrastructure are already paying dividends. The WTM team continue to work closely with our sister event, Arabian Travel Market, to ensure continued support to the region in its ongoing endeavours."

Source: Trade Arabia

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