The tourism marvel that is the Middle East

Public and private initiatives drive growth
The tourism marvel that is the Middle East
According to the UN Tourism World Tourism Barometer, the Middle East recorded the strongest relative growth globally in the first quarter of 2024.

The Middle East has a long history of ancient cultures and traditions, including, massive empires and kingdoms. In modern times, the region has flourished into a destination where its time-honored culture co-exists with innovations that give a glimpse into a tech-driven yet sustainability-anchored future.

Several countries here have embarked on a path to elevate their global presence by blending cultural heritage with cutting-edge advancements. The result is a travel and tourism sector that thrives season after season.

According to the UN Tourism World Tourism Barometer, the Middle East recorded the strongest relative growth globally in the first quarter of 2024. Its international arrivals surpassed pre-pandemic figures by 36 percent. This shows how the region sustained its momentum last year when it became the only region to exceed pre-pandemic levels — with arrival figures that are 22 percent higher than in 2019.

In The Travel & Tourism Development Index (TTDI) 2024 also highlighted notable developments in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These high-income economies are among the top 10 most improved countries in their TTDI scores from 2019 to 2024. In particular, Saudi Arabia improved its position from 50th to 41st, and the UAE from 25th to 18th. All this indicates significant advancements in their travel-and-tourism-enabling conditions.

As the region continues to fare well in the tourism world, several initiatives from both the public and private sectors are poised to continue to entice travelers, especially this summer season.

For instance, Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, has launched its 101 Abu Dhabi Do’s program. It highlights 101 wide-ranging experiences that allow tourists to create lasting memories throughout an eventful season. In Saudi Arabia, the country’s tourism authority has unveiled its summer program, which is themed “Saudi Summer is Next Door.” The campaign features over 550 tourism products and 150 special offers and turns the spotlight on diverse summer destinations like Aseer and Taif.

These endeavors are well-complemented by strategies of leading players in the field. For example, Plaza Premium Group, the world’s most extensive independent airport lounge network, has strengthened its presence in Middle Eastern markets. Meanwhile, global digital payment company Visa remains committed to enhancing personalized travel experiences by offering exclusive, targeted deals in countries like the UAE.

As various entities continue to make significant strides, consumers have also been leveraging available technology to improve their travel experiences. One rising trend is using artificial intelligence (AI) to create tailored itineraries.

Such forward-thinking innovations set the foundation for a more advanced travel and tourism sector. Amid these advancements, the world can only expect visionary leadership, such as that seen in Middle Eastern countries, to continue breaking boundaries. The ultimate goal is to develop a sector that fuses tradition and modernity while being a vital engine of growth on multiple levels.

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