Since the start of the pandemic, governments across the Middle East have shown total commitment to Travel & Tourism. Saudi in particular has shown great leadership throughout the crisis, pushing for greater regional and global coordination, and making a major investment in Travel & Tourism not only in the country but around the world.
Middle East tourism and travel is set to create nearly 3.6 million jobs over the next 10 years. That averages around 360,000 jobs each year from now, making the sector a leader in the region’s wider economic recovery.
That is according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) latest Economic Impact Report (EIR). According to the report, travel and tourism GDP is forecasted to grow at an average rate of 7.7 percent annually between 2022-2032, three times the 2.5 percent growth rate for the region’s overall economy, to reach nearly $540 billion (10.1 percent of the total economy).
The global tourism body’s annual report also shows further optimism for the region’s travel and tourism GDP, which could almost reach pre-pandemic levels by 2023 – just 2.5 percent below 2019 levels.
Before the pandemic, the industry’s contribution to the economy was 8.4 percent, or $323.6 billion in 2019. It dropped to just 4.5 percent ($162.6 billion) in 2020. Last year, its contribution to the GDP climbed 15.9 percent year-on-year, to reach $188.5 billion.
The sector’s contribution to the economy and employment could have been higher if it weren’t for the impact of the Omicron variant, which led to the recovery faltering around the world, with many countries reinstating severe travel restrictions.
Despite WTTC’s favorable outlook, according to leaders in the industry, the struggle over talent rages on in the region, with one hotelier worried the Middle East could face staff shortages similar to European hoteliers.