Confidence restored in tourism sector

25 March 2022
Hospitality and tourism venues across the region are looking forward to a surge in occupancy rates in 2022

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Regional tourism on path to recovery

The travel and hospitality sectors in the Middle East and North Africa are poised to return to pre-pandemic levels

With the easing of travel restrictions in many countries, there has been a robust recovery across markets in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, with industry experts heralding the return of the pre-pandemic boom.

Research by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) in March 2022 indicated that the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East could reach $246bn this year, just 8.9 per cent behind pre-pandemic levels. 

In 2019, before the pandemic, the sector was booming, according to the WTTC, and was contributing $270bn to the region’s economy. However, in 2020, this figure dropped 51.1 per cent, with a loss of more than $138bn.

“The Covid-19 pandemic caused significant losses to the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, but we now have reason for real optimism,” Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, says. 

“Since the start of the pandemic, governments across the Middle East have shown real commitment to travel and tourism. Saudi Arabia, in particular, has shown strong leadership throughout the crisis and is making a major investment in travel and tourism.

“[This year] is poised for a strong recovery if governments across the region continue to open up their borders and remove restrictions on travel, which will have a massive positive effect on the economy, the society and jobs,” she adds.

WTTC also notes that if vaccination programmes continue to be rolled out at pace this year and restrictions on international travel are eased around the world, 6.8 million people could be employed in the travel and tourism sector by the end of 2022, just 40,000 behind pre-pandemic levels.

However, according to data from Colliers International, there is still uncertainty over the Omicron Covid-19 variant, which was expected to impact travel in the first quarter of 2022. Read more

This package on the region's tourism sector also includes:

> High stakes for UAE tourism
> UAE expands on gaming grey area
> Wynn Rak resort echoes UAE tourism appeal
> Saudi construction picks up pace as awards rise
> Riyadh’s Expo 2030 bid gains traction
Qatar nears its time to shine

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