Travel and tourism sector contribution to the UAE economy will continue to grow as 23,500 new jobs will be created this year, taking the total number of employment to 833,000 in 2024, said Julia Simpson, president and CEO of World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

In 2024, WTTC said, the sector’s contribution will increase to 12 per cent of UAE’s GDP, reaching Dh236 billion.

International visitor spending in UAE is projected to grow by nearly 10 per cent to reach Dh192 billion and domestic visitor spending is forecast to increase by 4.3 per cent to reach almost Dh58 billion.

In an interview with Khaleej Times, Simpson said the Emirates’ travel and tourism sector will be employing 928,000 people by 2034, with one in 9 residents working in the sector. This means, around 95,000 new jobs will be created between 2024 and 2034. While the sector’s contribution to the UAE will grow to Dh275 billion by 2024.

“There is a massive investment that the UAE government has been focusing on the travel and tourism sector. And it is really interesting the way UAE has not just maintained its position as a strong tourism destination but it is actually beating all markets,” WTTC president and CEO said during the interview.

Soaring past all previous records

According to the 2024 Economic Impact Research (EIR) report released by WTTC, the number of jobs in the UAE’s travel and tourism grew by 41,000 in 2023 to reach more than 809,000, representing one in nine jobs in the country.

The global body said that UAE’s travel and tourism sector in UAE sector is now soaring past all previous records, a testament to the country’s commitment to attracting tourists from around the world to destinations such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Ras Al Khaimah.

The travel and tourism sector in UAE grew by more than a quarter – 26 per cent – to a record-breaking Dh220 billion to the UAE’s GDP, representing 11.7 per cent of the entire economy. This exceeded the previous record set in 2019 by almost 15 per cent and underscores the sector’s pivotal role in the nation’s economic framework.

While domestic visitor spending fully recovered in 2022, it continued to grow last year to reach more than Dh55.5 billion, which is almost 40 per cent higher than 2019.

“The UAE's travel and tourism sector has not only recovered; it soared to new heights, establishing itself as a cornerstone of the nation's economic landscape. The remarkable growth in both employment and visitor spending is a testament to the UAE's strategic vision and commitment to enhancing its Travel and Tourism. As the sector continues to set benchmarks for the global travel industry, it underscores the importance of sustainable and inclusive strategies in driving prosperity,” said Julia Simpson, president and CEO of WTTC.

Middle East

According to WTTC figures, the Middle Eastern travel and tourism sector grew by more than 25 per cent in 2023 to reach almost $460 billion. Jobs reached nearly 7.75 million and international spending grew by 50 per cent to reach $179.8 billion. Domestic visitor spending grew by 16.5 per cent to reach more than $205 billion.

WTTC is forecasting that Travel & Tourism across the region will continue to grow throughout 2024 with the GDP contribution set to reach $507 billion. Jobs are forecast to reach 8.3 million, international visitor spending is forecast to reach $198 billion and domestic visitor spending is expected to reach more than $224 billion.

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