This is what makes UAE a world favourite for travellers
Travel and tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. In 2016, the travel and tourism industry contributed an astonishing $7.6 trillion to the global economy – that’s 10.2 per cent of global GDP. It also generated a total of 292 million jobs, which means that 1 in 10 people work in the sector. The numbers of international arrivals are just as impressive, reaching 1.2 billion in 2016, 46 million more than in 2015. And this number is only expected to get bigger, reaching 1.8 billion international arrivals by 2030.
But as we look ahead, who will be travelling in 2030? It is clear that the big winners will be Africa with 90 million outbound tourists (157 per cent increase) and the Middle East with 81 million outbound tourists (125 per cent increase).
And this has the potential to help countries generate economic growth, create jobs and enable national and regional development.
Which countries are in the best position to make the most of all these opportunities? Every two years, the World Economic Forum sets out to answer that question by ranking the travel and tourism competitiveness of 136 countries.
The UAE continues to be one of the world’s most competitive economies for travel and tourism, according to the report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).
It ranks the UAE the 29th most competitive globally. The UAE is followed by Qatar in the overall ranking for the Middle East, with Bahrain, Israel and Saudi Arabia bagging the rest of the top five. Rounding up the top ten most competitive economies for travel and tourism in the region are Oman, Jordan, Iran, Lebanon and Kuwait.
The UAE, which welcomed millions of foreign guests in 2015, has been ranked number one in the Middle East region for business environment, safety and security, human resources, transport infrastructure, ICT readiness and international openness, among many others.
The UAE’s business environment has been ranked fifth best overall, while its safety and security has been rated second best in the world, next to Finland.
It was announced early this year that the UAE will grant visas on arrival to visiting Russians, among the biggest contributors to travel and tourism spending in the country.
The UAE’s overall ranking in the WEF report, however, fell by a few places because other destinations, such as South Korea and Greece, have performed exceptionally well during the review period.
“The United Arab Emirates continues to offer an outstanding business environment to invest in travel and tourism activities (ranked 5th globally), with advanced ICT readiness (15th best in the world) and one of the best air transport infrastructures in the world (3rd), in terms of both connectivity and quality of the service,” said the report.
“It is also one of the most secure destinations (2nd), and has a well-developed hospitality and entertainment infrastructure (27th).”
The WEF report also noted that, while some countries still have very restrictive visa policies, there is a growing number of destinations that have loosened their requirements, making it now easier for travellers to visit destinations and stimulating global tourism and trade in the process.
“The travel and tourism industry continues building bridges rather than walls between people travelling across borders and global trends towards adopting less restrictive visa policies,” the report states.
Not only will emerging destinations like the Middle East become larger source markets, but they will also become more attractive destinations.
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index measures “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country”.