Experts praise UAE’s tourism industry but say GCC as a whole needs work

Experts weighed on the state of the region at the 'Destination X Infrastructure Summit'

Phil Taylor, managing director of Team Leisure
Phil Taylor, managing director of Team Leisure

Experts at the Destination X Infrastructure Summit have hailed the UAE as a region-leading force in attractions and infrastructure but say the region needs to improve its global presence and flexibility for tourists.

The summit, which took place on November 10, highlighted the upcoming hotel and leisure projects throughout the UAE and wider GCC area. Supported by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, the Summit is a prelude to the main event taking place in February 2020.

Industry-experts at the summit spoke about the success of established developments within the UAE. During the one-day event, the UAE’s infrastructure and list of development projects were hailed as a region-leading force in the sphere of leisure and entertainment.  

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Ali Alsuwaidi, GV, Chief Operating Officer, Global Village Dubai, elaborated that the UAE is now starting to compete not only regionally, but on a global scale as well. 

According to unnamed-experts at the summit, the UAE’s continuous investment into the tourism and hospitality infrastructures are helping the country diversify its economy and stimulate employment. Experts even hypothesised the Middle East’s leisure industry will be a major competitor in the next 10 years to established hubs such as Orlando and China.  

Team Leisure’s Managing Director Phil Taylor said: “The UAE is in the vanguard of the region’s tourism and hospitality infrastructure investment.

“With tourism and hospitality projects it’s important to look at the big picture. The UAE has invested heavily in theme park-anchored projects, for example. Ferrari World will turn 10 next year and the park is still maturing.”

However, it’s not all rosy for the UAE, the summit concluded that while the UAE’s internal leisure industry is strong, it has to improve at marketing itself to a global audience.

Greater attention has to be given to promoting both the quality and the scale of ‘attractions’ in the UAE according to the Summit. It was pointed out that GCC countries should introduce more flexible visa options to help draw in visitors from around the world.

Simon Mellor, CEO, Messe Frankfurt Middle East commented on regional trends shaping the tourism sector. “Investment in infrastructure such as hotels, transportation networks and leisure attractions with more flexible visa and entry requirements for visiting nations form the key pillars of most nations’ tourism strategy.”

The observation comes as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia introduced its e-visa system and ushered in a new age of tourism in the country to help build its tourism economy.

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