The UAE has evolved a comprehensive strategy to increase the contribution of the tourism sector to the national gross domestic product (GDP) to Dh450 billion by 2031, its top official says.

Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, said the strategy plans to attract investments in the tourism sector worth Dh100 billion and bring 40 million hotel guests to the region. At present, the overall contribution of tourism in the GDP is valued at Dh177 billion.

While delivering his keynote address at the inauguration of 9th Sharjah International Travel and Tourism Forum, the minister emphasised that the UAE has developed a tourism infrastructure and diversified the sector which is further enhanced by the National Tourism Strategy 2031 launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

"The strategy has been implemented to bolster UAE’s position as the most attractive tourist destination globally through the diversity and unique advantages of the seven emirates," the minister said while addressing the forum in Sharjah on Thursday.


Al Marri noted that his ministry is collaborating with local and federal partners dedicated to tourism, including airlines, the World Tourism Organisation as well as other partners.

"Their goal is to implement 25 tourist initiatives and policies through which it aims to increase the contribution of the tourism sector to the national GDP to Dh450 billion by 2031, attract investments worth Dh100 billion and bring 40 million hotel guests to the region," Al Marri said.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the forum under the theme of “Building a sustainable future for tourism”.

After the inauguration, Al Qasimi toured the exhibition that saw the participation of several government entities, and explored their tourist projects, attractions, initiatives and their impact on the emirate’s economy. He also awarded the sponsors, partners and speakers at the forum.

During the opening ceremony, a short video was screened about Sharjah, its key characteristics and diverse tourist attractions in fields like the environment, sport and culture among others. The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) organised the event at the Sharjah Expo Centre.


The Minister of Economy also shed light on leading tourist achievements in the UAE, noting that as a destination it ranked first in the Middle East and 25th internationally according to the Tourist Competitive Index in 2021.

The UAE also ranked 11th globally for the most attractive destinations in 2020, and over 10 years it maintained its position as one of the first 12 destinations in the world which attracts more than 10 million visitors annually.

With the return of tourists, the UAE’s tourism revenues surpassed $5 billion in the first half of this year. As the international travel resumed after the pendemic restrictions are over, the UAE airports received 22 million passengers in the first quarter of this year alone.

Khalid Jassim Al Midfa, chairman of SCTDA, highlighted Sharjah’s keenness on working with all partners in different vital sectors, to make strategic plans aimed at the development of the tourism sector in the emirate.

He pointed out the importance of investing all available resources that enhance Sharjah’s position on the map of global tourism, in line with the vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.

"The emirate has a diverse portfolio of tourist destinations and quality development projects, particularly in ecotourism and adventure," Al Midfa said.

The SCTDA chairman said that tourism proved its resilience and ability to keep with the global changes, pointing out that the UAE realised the importance of the tourism and travel sector as a key economic contributor to the national economy, and its impact on people’s lives.

"The UAE built on the diversity that characterises of each of the seven emirates to enhance its tourist products which increased its attractiveness, pointing out that tourism contributed to 12 per cent of UAE’s GDP, while the global rate stands at 10 per cent, which is a solid proof of the pioneering position of UAE tourism," Al Midfa said.

Gillame Massey, senior business development manager in UAE & Africa for Expedia, gave a presentation as he discussed how his company had collected over 70 exabytes of data in collaboration with Wakefield Research. He said the data is used to connect entities such as booking agents and hotels with the right customer by analysing their intent, interests and budget requirements.

Massey pointed out that raising visitors’ community awareness of the importance of sustainability makes it imperative for government officials and tourism experts to collaborate with tourism companies to promote sustainability as it promises a more developed and eco-friendly tourist future.

In its sessions and workshops, the Sharjah International Tourism and Travel Forum 2022 discussed the novelties and trends of the global tourism sector, as well as the future perceptions of tourism in Sharjah and the region.

The event also addressed the best innovative practices and exchanges ideas and vision with a host of decision makers and tourist experts from around the world to develop tourist projects and services as well as bolster sustainable tourism.

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