Signs of recovery in the tourism sectors of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are already visible and tourism in the country will be out of the recession-induced doldrums soon, said a senior official of the World Tourism Organization.
Speaking to Emirates Business on the sidelines of a meeting for the classification of hotels organized by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, Amr Abdel Ghaffar, the organization’s regional representative for the Middle East, said: “Tourism in Dubai and Abu Dhabi was impacted by the crisis, but it was a limited impact, which is disappearing noticeably. I expect the number of tourists to the country to rise remarkably next year, especially as it has all the components necessary for the industry to flourish.
“Tourism, both in the UAE and the world, is always affected the most by crises such as swine flu pandemic, tsunamis, recessions or wars. But what distinguishes the UAE’s tourism sector is that it dealt with the crisis positively and was not much affected. Hotels were not closed and new units are continuing to be constructed. Federal and local governments have continued the implementation of tourism projects they had announced.”
Ghaffar said: “Abu Dhabi is set to mainly develop cultural tourism to become an important competitor at the regional and global levels, and I think it will succeed in that.
“Abu Dhabi is following a strategic plan to enhance tourism in the next five years. The number of tourists is projected to rise to two million in 2012 and three million within five years. The emirate is due to consolidate entertainment tourism to form at least 50 percent of its sector.
“Figures show tourists flow to the Gulf countries, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Egypt will rise threefold by 2020 – from 54 million to an estimated 136 million. The Gulf currently receives 60 percent of tourists headed to the Middle East, as the people going on Haj and umrah are also taken into account in the classification.”