As the world recovers from the onslaught of three waves of COVID-19, and life inches back to normal, the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry in the Middle East is seeing a rapid recovery. A study by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed that the Travel & Tourism sector in the Middle East could reach US$246 billion this year, just 8.9% behind pre-pandemic levels.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant losses to the Middle East’s Travel & Tourism sector, but we now have a reason for real optimism. Since the start of the pandemic, governments across the Middle East have shown a real commitment to travel and tourism. Saudi Arabia, in particular, has shown strong leadership throughout the crisis and is making a major investment in Travel & Tourism.”
“2022 is poised for a strong recovery if governments across the region continue to open up their borders and remove restrictions to travel which will have a massive positive effect on both the economy, the society, and jobs,” she added.
The WTTC noted that before the pandemic, the sector was generating US$270 billion in revenues to the region’s economy. And the degeneration of the market was 50% due to the COVID-19 in 2020 with the revenues falling to the tune of $140 billion.
According to businesses operating in the region, Dubai Expo 2020, which started in the previous week, has significantly contributed to the uptick.
According to Hotelier, the incoming tourist arrivals in Dubai recorded a 100% year-on-year rise in 2022 in January with 979,700 tourists landing in the global destination.
However, the Russia-Ukraine war and its direct and passive fallouts are likely to put the growth trajectory at a steeper decline.
Incidentally, Russia itself is one of the top three source markets for the entire Middle East region, according to industry players. While the ongoing conflict has immediate ramifications like that of closing of airspace and shuttering of Russian airlines, the dwindling value of the rouble will also have mid to long-term impacts.
Otherwise, an increase in aviation fuel price, food inflation, and overall higher living costs across the world may also harm the growth prospects of the industry this year.