There are many ways to define ‘power’. For the purpose of this issue, I’m going to go with Merriam-Webster’s  definition: “possession of control, authority, or influence over others”. As you may have noticed, this is our special 204-page issue, which contains more than 50 pages of Power 50 rankings and data. I’ll leave you to check page 52 to find out more about the creation of the list, but what I want to talk about is the influence the hospitality industry has on a range of issues — from tourism growth to employment.

While this isn’t specific to the hospitality sector, but applies to the entire tourism & travel industry for the UAE (which includes hotels and leisure), a Colliers International report revealed that the total contribution of travel & tourism to the UAE GDP was AED 133.8 billion (US$36.43bn or 8.7% of GDP) in 2015. This was forecast to rise by 4.4% in 2016, and by a further 5.4% per annum to over AED 236 billion ($64.25bn or 11.2% of GDP) in 2026.

A lot of this obviously has to do with tourism boards across the region pushing the destination, but it’s the experience that hotels provide that keep guests coming back. All this makes for a very lucrative industry, and investors are seeing it that way.

Bahrain is one such GCC country seeing some great numbers. CBRE Bahrain, citing data from the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said that 15 four- and five-star hotels and resorts with a combined investment of more than US $10 billion will open in Bahrain over the next five years. These are great numbers, and no doubt will contribute to the local economy, boost tourism, and provide jobs to many. And the same holds true across the region — showing that this industry matters.

According to a new report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the global travel & tourism sector directly sustains twice as many jobs as the financial sector, and five times as many jobs as the chemicals manufacturing sector. It also revealed that the power of travel & tourism to create jobs is significantly higher than that of financial services when you compare their contribution to GDP.

In the Middle East specifically, the travel & tourism industry contributed $227 billion to GDP in 2016, and supported 5.7 million jobs.

Now that’s pretty powerful.

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