GCC tourism not expected to recover until 2023 says expert

ICAEW said economic damage could be twice that of the 2008 crisis

Dubai expo 2020, Saudi vision 2030

Despite a boost from next year’s Dubai Expo 2020 and Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Vision 2030 plans, the GCC’s hospitality and tourism sector could not recover fully until 2023 or 2024.

That’s according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) economic advisor Scott Livermore. Hospitality and tourism, which accounts for around 15 percent of the region’s GDP, could see an economic hit twice as large as 2008’s financial crisis.

Speaking at a webinar, Livermore added: "The nature of the shock points to a sharper rebound and V-shaped recovery as lockdown restrictions unwind. However, even though the global economy is recovering and will see periods of record growth over the next 18 months, it is unlikely to return to pre-crisis levels until the end of 2021 or early 2022."

The GCC is particularly vulnerable, said Livermore, as there’s set to be a mass exodus of expats this year. "A flight of expats from the Gulf countries, combined with limited policy support, in the form of smaller fiscal stimulus packages than elsewhere in the world, also risk weighing on the recovery," he added.

"Constrained by low oil prices, the low spending response by GCC governments could result in further GDP losses over the medium term. The GCC governments have an important role in supporting the recovery across the region," he concluded.

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