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Family travel is the theme for this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai. It makes sense considering that the region’s wealthy families are increasingly making travel a high-spend priority. Some 25% of MENA residents are opting for luxury accommodation and 20% are choosing to fly first or business class for leisure (with the UAE, Italy and Turkey as preferred destinations).
Family centric travel accounts for more than US$134 billion of the US$1.07 trillion global tourism market according to YouGov, and it’s due to rise to over US$180 billion by 2018. In addition to family travel, the Arabian Travel Market 2015 is also focusing on travel technology, business travel, and luxury and wellness travel. Furthermore, the event is set to offer an instant check on the current pulse of that evolving travel arena.
ATM also demonstrates the extent to which the Gulf States will go to compete with each other in developing and consolidating strong offers in tourism, aiming to diversify revenues beyond oil.
A reported US$11.6 billion worth of tourism projects are currently underway in Saudi Arabia, whereas Oman, with more than US$3.3 billion worth of high profile tourism projects currently under development, is rapidly expanding its existing tourism offering aiming at grasping the luxury niche*. Kuwait’s government has also invested into infrastructure development to accelerate opportunities in the travel sector and tourism arrivals are expected to grow to 440,000 by 2024, up from 270,000 in 2014.
The UAE’s travel objectives are much more audacious. According to aviation think tank CAPA, passenger traffic will reach 160 million in the UAE’s airspace by 2020. The World Travel & Tourism Council predicts that the UAE will retain its position as a regional tourism leader, with the sector valued at US$31.8 billion by the end of 2018. On top of that, between October 2020 and April 2021, Dubai’s Expo 2020 is expected to attract more than 25 million visitors (70% of them from outside the UAE), with many considering the success of their ambitious plan a sure bet.
But that is not all. The Dubai press is reporting that there will soon be an announcement on the first Arab Mission to Mars, planned for 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s formation. Some sectors are now proposing that the UAE should embark in a more ambitious travel strategy - establishing a commercial spaceport to develop space transportation. Should this proposal come to fruition, the UAE Spaceport might be showcased during Expo 2020. To infinity and beyond.
Stay tuned for more from ATM Dubai 2015!*Source: Oman Tourism report