Events will lead to regional growth
With the Expo 2020 showcase now less than 12 months away - and a comprehensive calendar of other prestigious events lined up across the UAE, GCC and wider MENA region well beyond 2020 - mega-events, major sporting and political events, cultural festivals, concerts and MICE events are all set to become increasingly important drivers for international arrivals to the Middle East.
According to the latest data from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the Middle East’s GDP is predicted to rise by 4.2 per cent per annum to $133.6 billion by 2028 – driven in part by additional tourists to the region as a result of major events.
Travellers to the region are increasingly looking beyond conventional leisure programmes and itineraries and are instead actively seeking out atypical experiences and events that promise a standout trip.
This growing trend is now on the radar of the region’s tourism chiefs as they look to diversify their more traditional tourism propositions, creating a global hub of experiences for both tourists and residents alike by hosting the world’s most spectacular megaevents.
With this in mind, Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2020’s spotlight theme ‘Events for Tourism Growth’ will be launched as a platform to explore the significant impact events have on the travel and hospitality industry in the region.
Events for Tourism Growth will be integrated across all show verticals and planned activities – with a host of seminars on ATM’s show floor designed to inspire the travel and hospitality industry, while exploring in depth the next generation of events that will fundamentally alter the way in which the hospitality industry operates in the region.
Expo 2020 will be the largest event ever staged in the Arab World. Taking place from October 2020 to April 2021, 192 pavilions from countries around the world will be showcased, with over 25 million visitors – 145,000 visitors for every one of the 173 days the site is open, expected.
Organisers of the event are predicting 11 million visits from UAE residents and 14 million from overseas visitors – most of whom are expected to be tourists. According to Century Financial the megaevent is likely to create 60,000-70,000 jobs and boost Dubai’s economy by $33.4 billion, with the emirate’s GDP likely to accelerate by more than four percent during 2020 on account of Expo-related activities.
Looking at Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030 has set aside $64 billion to invest in culture, leisure and entertainment projects over the next decade as the kingdom looks to attract 30 million visitors annually by 2030, according to a report from real estate firm Savills.
The country’s new $500 billion mega-city NEOM alone has already been earmarked as a sporting hub of the future, with plans to make the Red Sea development a viable world class venue for megaevents such as the Olympic Games and various sporting World Championships.
Not only is the GCC ideally located for athletes, musicians, celebrities, business tycoons, and the likes to make appearances, compete or perform – but the region also boasts the very best facilities and first-class accommodation with excellent air links to major cities on every continent – encouraging both regional and international visitors to book extended tours to coincide with prominent events.
Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2020 will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 19 to 22, 2020.
* The writer is exhibition director ME, Arabian Travel Market