Amidst the shifting sands of time and culture, the GCC blooms as a shining oasis on the global tourism horizon.
The GCC region has notably positioned it as the most resilient tourist destination in the post-COVID era. A combination of Government policies, market trends, and geopolitical forces tilts in favour of a radical change in the tourist landscape of the region.
GCC Tourism is Racing Ahead
Let's put it into figures.
If GCC was a nation, it would be featured as the top 5 tourist destinations and ranks third for inbound tourism spending in 2022, with $45 billion flowing into the region from tourism in 2022. Additionally, statistics say that the GCC region has faced the pandemic most powerfully, outperforming the entire international travel industry’s recovery by 40%.
We all know that London and Paris are famous for captivating high-class international visitors. However, yet another shocking report from Mastercard Economic Institute revealed that visitors to the UAE and Saudi Arabia outspent them on payment cards in 2022. On average, visitors to Dubai spent around $300 more per card in 2022 compared with those who visited London or Paris.
Factors Favouring Tourism Growth
1. Travel Free Zone
The main highlight of the GCC zone is its high level of cooperation among member countries, and they are currently considering significant steps such as facilitating domestic and intra-regional travel without borders for their citizens, akin to the Schengen Area in Europe, or the implementation of a unified GCC Visa system. This factor contributes significantly to weekend leisure trips in terms of figures and frequency.
Plus, it transforms the GCC into a global crossroads, making travel to diverse corners of the world hassle-free. It's a magnet for business and leisure travellers, drawing them from Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas.
2. Medical Tourism
The GCC nations are making unprecedented investments in their medical sectors, undertaking substantial infrastructure projects that hold the potential to reshape the region's face. UAE takes a step further to attract medical tourists by introducing a three-month medical tourist visa.
All these strategic movements are pinpointed to one objective- to capitalize on the region's cost-effective advantages, attracting developed nationals seeking top-notch medical services at more affordable rates.
GCC is one of the most preferred zones for international business magnets due to the simplest compliance requirements and lowest tax rates. Additionally, strategic advantages such as the availability of cheap energy and convenient access to the South Asian market contribute to the region's growing business travel demands.
4. Young Population
Falling birth rates will lead to ageing populations in many developed countries over the next 10-year period, but the GCC will remain an unusually young part of the world. A young and rapidly expanding population will be the driving factor for the infrastructure growth of the region.
A well-developed infrastructure will attract middle-class travellers from nations like India and China.
All things considered, the region is becoming a significant contributor to the tourism industry. Let's wait and see how these shifting trends reshape the GCC's destiny.