Report: GCC travel & tourism generated $245bn in 2019

The sector accounted for 8.6% of the region’s GDP last year

WTTC president & CEO Gloria Guevara
WTTC president & CEO Gloria Guevara

The travel & tourism sector in the GCC last year accounted for US$245 billion of its overall GDP, equating to 8.6% according to a report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The Economic Impact Report (EIR) underscores the importance of the industry during a time where it is feeling pressure from the spread of COVID-19.

WTTC president & CEO Gloria Guevara explained: “WTTC’s 2019 Economic Impact Report (EIR) shows how intrinsic travel & tourism was last year to the economy in the Middle East, supporting nearly seven million jobs or 8.8% of the total number of people employed.

WTTC’s report highlighted that leisure travel in the region accounted 83% of tourism spending, while business travel made up 17%. Domestic spend made up 37% of the total, while international visitor spending made up 63%.

Saudi Arabia and UAE both stood out in 2019. Saudi Arabia had the fastest growing travel & tourism sector in 2019, with the sector growing by 14% to make up 9.5% of the total economy in the country. Travel & tourism supported nearly 1.5 million jobs, or 11.2% of total employment in the country.

The UAE also saw significant growth of 5.0%, contributing 11.9% to the total economy in the country and supporting 745,000 jobs, or, 11.1% of total employment. Leisure spending made up 79% of total visitor spending, and 77% was made up of international visitors.

Guevara added: “Our report underscores how vital travel & tourism will be in powering the recovery of the region’s economy, generating new jobs and driving visitors back to the Middle East, having a positive economic domino effect on suppliers large and small throughout the industry.

“Until then it is crucial that all governments throughout the Middle East help to protect travel & tourism as the backbone of the regional and global economy, which is currently in a fight for survival with up to 75 million jobs globally at immediate risk, with 1.8 million at risk across the region alone.”

On a global scale, the sector contributes 10.3% towards GDP and generates 330 million jobs.

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