The UAE government under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his perceptive vision for building a sound and sustainable economic environment, attaches great importance to the travel and tourism sector as a tool for strengthening the country’s position on the international tourism map.
The UAE has been ranked 30th among 139 countries covered by the ‘Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2011’, issued by the World Economic Forum under the theme ‘Moving beyond the Downturn’. The UAE ranked first in the Middle East among countries with most advanced travel and tourism sectors, having achieved 4.78 points.
“The continuing development of tourism infrastructure in UAE has enhanced the country’s ranking and position, especially in the structure of the air transport sector as, it ranked 4th globally in the competitive index.
The UAE has assumed the place globally in destinations marketing campaigns, through its distinguished presence in major travel and tourism international exhibitions. It also occupied third place for government priorities in this sector, a coording to a report issued by the Abu Dhabi Economic Development Department on the occasion of the World Tourism Day.
The report estimated the contribution of travel and tourism sector to the state’s GDP in 2010 to be around 16.6 per cent, amounting to $42.56 billion (Dh156.3bn).
Noting that Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah accounted for 93 per cent of the total contribution of tourism sector in the country’s GDP, The report predicts that the average growth of the sector’s contribution to the GDP in UAE, will be more than 8.1 per cent annually during the period from 2011 to 2020, indicating that the total number of workers in this sector, exceeds 429 thousand people, comprising 13.8 er cent of the total labour force in the country. The report predicts that the demand for jobs in the tourism sector will grow by 5.7 per cent per year until 2020.
The progress of the UAE and its stance ahead of many of the ancient tourism destinations, despite the moderate natural resources of tourism sector in UAE, is mainly due to the improved classification of cultural resources, as UAE had stepped up in this sub-index from the 84th rank in 2009, to 34th position this year, backed by the unique characteristics for tourists and travelers in the “familiarity index”, as it was ranked 25th globally.
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) statistics show that the number of hotel guests and hotel apartments in Abu Dhabi has risen by 10% during the first four months of this year, compared to the same period last year. This was accompanied by an increase of 26 per cent in the number of hotel nights and an increase in occupancy levels, revenue and average periods of stay.
In Dubai, the hotels registered a growth of 14 per cent in the number of visitors in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period last year, and achieved an occupancy rate of 81 per cent.
According to the “World Tourism Organisation”, the number of tourists in the Middle East dropped by 7 per cent, due to the recent events in the region, where the number of international tourists in the first four months of this year, amounted to 268 million tourists, compared to 256 million at the same period last year, growing by 4.5 per cent. However, the UAE bucked the general trend in the Middle East, and recorded an increase in number of tourists.
The World Tourism Day The World Tourism Day aims at raising awareness of the international community and emphasising the importance of tourism, and its social, cultural, political and economic values. The world celebrates the World Tourism Day on September 27 each year since 1980, by organising activities appropriate to the topics chosen by the General Assembly for the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which is based in Madrid, Spain. Its membership includes 161 nations and more than 300 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
The theme of this year’s World Tourism Day, ‘Tourism – linking cultures’, highlights the powerful role of tourism in building international understanding and mutual respect.