GCC hotel sector set for further growth despite challenges
According to Danielle Curtis, Gallery Director of the Middle East Arabian Travel Market, GCC countries are expected to record significant growth in the hospitality industry, while a number of Gulf destinations are witnessing a growth rate of six times the global average, compared with the global average of 12%.
This growth is indicative of the well-functioning strategy of governments to diversify their economies away from oil and gas revenues, and their confidence in tourism sector growth across the region.
Despite the difficulties and challenges posed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that the global hospitality industry has faced over the past two years, the development of new hotels in top tourist destinations like the UAE, Saudi, Qatar, and Oman, remain substantial, even by global standards.
According to a new report conducted at the end of 2021 by the Smith Travel Research company and commissioned by the Arabian Travel Market exhibition, the United Arab Emirates remains one of the safest countries in the world, driven by its strict measures to ensure tourism safety and travel procedures, especially in the post-Covid-19 recovery phase.
In this context, Dubai is committed to maintaining the highest standards of hygiene and safety. The growth rate of the Emirate’s hotel rooms has reached 26%, which are exceptional figures that are more than double the global average, and reflect years of continuous hotel development.
Although Expo 2020 Dubai is now nearing its end on (March 31, 2022), this mega event has been the catalyst for the exponential growth of hotel rooms in the UAE, with nearly 50,000 hotel rooms still slated to open in the country.
According to the report, there are currently approximately 2.5 million hotel rooms under contract worldwide, with 3.2% or 80,000 rooms of this offering taking place in Saudi Arabia alone.
Saudi Arabia plans to welcome over 100 million visitors annually by 2030, with the goal of placing the Kingdom in the top five most visited countries in the world.
The UAE is closely followed by the Qatari capital, Doha, especially with the final preparations to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as Doha is on track to add 23,000 hotel rooms before and after the 2022 World Cup, contributing to its burgeoning hotel real estate portfolio of the country.
According to the report, Doha is expanding its hotel room inventory by 76%.
In fact, as the country seeks to attract more than 6 million visitors annually by 2030, the hospitality and tourism sector is expected to further stimulate economic activities and open new windows of opportunities to bolster the market, which is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.1% from 2019 to 2022 to reach $1.4 billion.
As for Muscat, it is expanding its hotel room stock by 59%, as one of the pillars of Oman 2040 Economic Vision consists of increasing the revenue from tourism, with the goal of diversifying the economy.
At the end of 2021, Kuwait declared that it is focusing on redeveloping the tourism sector, as it announced an $830 million capital investment through the Kuwait Investment Authority to facilitate the achievement of its tourism goals, according to a report released by Collier International Real Estate Services.
Kuwait Tourism Enterprises Company claimed the hotel occupancy rates in Kuwait fell by 4% in the third quarter of 2019 and continued to decline by a significant 44% in the third quarter of 2020, but recovered to reduce this decline to just 5% in the third quarter of 2021.
As for the average daily rate, it recorded a decline of 7% in the third quarter of 2019, stabilizing unchanged in the corresponding period of 2020, but registering a significant recovery in the third quarter of 2021, reaching 7%.
The country has unveiled a new 2022-2026 tourism strategy, as part of its plan to diversify the economy, aiming to boost the contribution of the sector to Bahrain’s GDP.
The country intends to raise the total number of tourist visitors to 14.1 million in 2026, increasing the average daily visitor spending to 74.8 Bahraini dinars, and raising the average tourist nights to 3.5 days.
Danielle Curtis, Gallery Director of the Middle East Arabian Travel Market, commented: “We are witnessing the growth of a number of Gulf destinations at a rate of six times the global average combined. with the global average of 12%.”
Curtis added: “These numbers, along with the continued easing of travel restrictions, will no doubt encourage travel professionals in the Middle East and beyond.”