Tourism is expected to generate $44bn for the GCC economies in 2012, up 27 per cent compared to 2009, according to new research published by World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC).

The direct contribution of travel and tourism to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to reach $14.9bn, or 2.9 per cent in 2012, up from $10.4bn in 2009. In Qatar, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP is expected to reach $1.1bn in 2012, compared with $800m in 2009, the WTCC said.

The tourism council noted that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar have all embarked on aggressive hotel and transport development programmes in a bid to diversify their economies away from oil and boost tourism revenues.