European visitors to GCC to increase 29% by 2023, says ATM report

ON  15 Mar, 2019

8.3million EU residents will travel to the GCC in 2023, an additional 1.9 milliontravellers when compared with 2018

The numberof ATM delegates, exhibitors and attendees interested in doing business withEurope increased 24% between 2017 and 2018

Arrivalsfrom Europe to the GCC will increase 29% over the period 2018 to 2023, driven by newand direct flight routes, a growing number of millennial and middle-classtravellers and competitive air fares, according to the latest data releasedahead of ArabianTravel Market (ATM) 2019, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centrefrom 28 April – 1 May 2019.

Accordingto ATM’s research partner, ColliersInternational, as manyas 8.3 million EU residents will travel to the GCC in 2023, an additional 1.9million travellers when compared to 2018 arrival figures.

Adding to this, figuresfrom ATM 2018 show the number of delegates arriving from Europe increased 5%between 2017 and 2018, while the number of delegates, exhibitors and attendeesinterested in doing business with Europe increased by 24%.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME,Arabian Travel Market, said: Historically, Europe and the GCC have enjoyedexcellent travel and tourism links and this trend is set to continue over thenext four years.

The UAE and Saudi Arabiaare expected to continue to be the preferred GCC destinations for Europeantourists, welcoming a projected 6.15 million and 1.11 million visitorsrespectively by 2023. Oman will follow with 720,000 visitors, while Bahrain willwelcome 310,000 and Kuwait 140,000.

Driving this demand in theUAE throughout 2018, Emirates introduced new flights to London Stansted,Edinburgh, Lyon and Paris; Etihad to Barcelona; flydubai to Catania,Thessaloniki, Krakow, Dubrovnik, Zagreb and Helsinki; and Air Arabia to Prague.Whilein Saudi Arabia, new routes to destinations including Vienna and Malaga wereadded during the same period.

Looking at the outbound market potential, GCC travel to EUcountries is expected to grow by 50%, with 6 million GCC residents projected tovisit Europe by 2023. The Colliers data indicates that Saudi Arabia will leadthis growth with 2.98 million KSA residents travelling to Europe in 2023,followed by 1.73 million UAE residents, 600,000 Kuwaitis, 340,000 Bahrainis and210,000 Omanis.

While part of this growth can be attributed to the UAEand Saudi Arabia’s large expatriate populations, GCC nationals are no strangersto European destinations, its culture and history – as well as its retail andluxury hospitality offerings.

Curtis said: Saudi Arabia is predicted to retain itsposition as the largest outbound travel market destination in the GCC, with anadditional 1.2 million trips forecasted per year by 2023 – a 70% growth on 2018trips. Driving this growth will be the rising spending power of bothmillennials and females in the Kingdom.

According to the Colliers research, the UK, France,Switzerland and Sweden will be the top European destinations for GCC nationalsto visit, with the UK expected to account for 890,000 trips by 2023.

In the UK, Brexit has weakened the British Poundproviding an additional incentive for Gulf tourists, while the relaxation oftourist visa requirements and GCC residents’ growing interest in medicaltourism is encouraging travel to countries such as Switzerland and Sweden, Curtis added.

ATM 2019 will welcome more than 100 European exhibitors tothe show, with names such as Armani Hotel Milano, the German National TourismBoard, Port Aventura World, the National Tourism Organisation of Serbia and theAustrian National Tourism Office as well as various new exhibitors includingBelarus National Tourism Agency, Moscow Committee for Tourismand MontenegroNational Tourism Organisation.

Considered by industry professionals as a barometer forthe Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, ATM welcomed over 39,000people to its 2018 event, showcasing the largest exhibition in the history ofthe show, with hotels comprising 20% of the floor area.

Brand new for this year’s show will be the launch of Arabian Travel Week, anumbrella brand comprising four co-located shows including ATM 2019, ILTM Arabia, CONNECT Middle East, India& Africa – a new route development forum and newconsumer-led event ATMHoliday Shopper. Arabian Travel Week will take place atDubai World Trade Centre from 27 April – 1 May 2019.

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