Al Rais Travel, the official DMC partner of Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the Middle East’s leading event for inbound and outbound travel and tourism professionals, has highlighted the latest trends supporting the growth of the tourism industry in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC, as visitor numbers from key source markets including the UK and China continue to rise.
According to the insights from Al Rais, Dubai’s reputation as a safe and secure destination and trusted brand has resulted in an uptick from key source markets.
UAE and Saudi travel market on solid track: Al Rais Travel
“Brand Dubai is trusted by people around the world. The country has rebounded incredibly well since COVID-19, with the latest figures for the first half of 2023 the best on record. As a travel company, our figures are very much representative of this. In terms of inbound markets, we’ve seen the top five markets shuffle to some extent, with Saudi dropping slightly and increases in British tourists.
“The return of the Chinese market, which, despite only coming back in Q1 of this year, has already moved into a top five position,” said Mohamed Al Rais, Deputy Managing Director at Al Rais Travel.
These trends are certainly borne out by the latest figures released by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) and no doubt experienced by ATM’s other partners, such as Emirates and IHG Hotels & Resorts.
Dubai’s top source markets
According to the latest statistics from DET, Dubai’s top source markets include India, which has seen a 44% increase between January and August 2023 compared to the same period last year; Saudia Arabia, which has seen a nominal 5% decrease during the same period; the UK, up 14%; and the Chinese market, which according to the data has witnessed a 309% jump in the first eight months of 2023 when compared to the same period in 2022.
The tourism expert also believes Saudi Arabia and UAE, rather than competing, complement one another’s tourism offerings and can encourage visits to both, similar to central Europe, where visitors tour several countries during one trip, benefiting the tourism industry across several borders.
Single GCC tourist visa
This view is supported by the recent news from Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, the UAE’s Minister of Economy, who announced that a single common GCC tourist visa will be introduced by 2025, allowing for seamless travel between the Gulf States, simplifying travel and boosting tourism in the region.
“The opportunity this affords not only the UAE and Saudi, but the whole of the GCC, is visitors who qualify will be able to travel to any country in the GCC and tour with ease, benefiting tourism in all countries,” added Al Rais.
Arabian Travel Market theme
In line with the ATM theme, Transforming Travel Through Entrepreneurship, and the UAE Tourism Strategy 2031, which has been developed to support the development of the country’s tourism industry, Al Rais Travel is working with a range of airlines yet to establish links to the UAE and providing support to help set them up.
Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market, said: “There are many examples of exhibitors seamlessly aligning with our show’s overarching theme, which is further underscored by the impactful contributions regional tourism entities have in pioneering innovative approaches to propel the industry into the future.
“As a platform, our mission is to amplify the voices of industry stakeholders, shedding light on their diverse initiatives spanning environmental sustainability, cutting-edge technology, accommodation solutions, and transportation innovations.”
The 31st edition of ATM will once again host policymakers, industry leaders and travel professionals from across the Middle East and beyond, encouraging them to forge new relationships, exchange knowledge and identify innovations that can reshape the future of global travel and tourism.
From startups to established brands, the upcoming show will highlight how innovators enhance customer experiences, drive efficiencies, and accelerate progress towards a net-zero future for the industry.
Building on ATM 2023’s ‘Working Towards Net Zero’ theme, environmentally responsible travel will represent a key focus during the show’s upcoming edition.
Year of Sustainability
Informed by the UAE’s Year of Sustainability and the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), which will take place in Dubai later this year, ATM 2024 will explore how innovation can be leveraged to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by building a greener travel and tourism sector for future generations.
More than 40,000 travel trade professionals, including 30,000 visitors, attended the 30th edition of ATM in May 2023, setting a new show record. The exhibition attracted more than 2,100 exhibitors and representatives from over 155 countries, providing a global platform for unveiling ATM’s net-zero pledge.