Middle East travel and tourism poised for robust growth


The overall outlook for 2004 and beyond is for robust growth in the travel and tourism industry in the Middle East according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) 2004 forecast.

Releasing forecasts prepared on its behalf by Oxford Economic Forecasting, which follow the United Nations standard for Tourism Satellite Accounting, the WTTC reported that the travel and tourism recovery from 9/11, the war in Iraq, SARS and the down-turned economy is now well underway.
According to the report, demand encompassing all components of travel and tourism consumption, investment, government spending and exports is set to grow 6.8 per cent in real terms and total $108.5 billion in 2004. The ten-year annualised growth (2005-2014) forecast is 3.9 per cent per annum, illustrating the outlook for robust market growth in 2004.
A number of destinations in the Middle East are expected to benefit from the stronger world economy, which is expected to spur nearly $20.5 billion in total visitor exports within the Middle East, a gain of 13.1 per cent on 2003 results. This level represents 6.5 per cent of total global exports.
The travel and tourism industry’s contribution to the Middle East regional economy is illustrated by the direct industry impact of 2.5 per cent of total GDP and the combined direct and indirect impact of the travel and tourism economy is expected to total nine per cent in 2004.
On the employment front, perhaps the issue most dear to the region, 61,000 new industry jobs are being forecast in 2004, bringing the total to 1.234 million jobs or three per cent of total regional employment. The broader perspective of the travel and tourism economy (direct and indirect) is expected to create nearly 170,000 new jobs in 2004 for the regional economy for a total of 3.422 million jobs dependent on travel and tourism or 8.2 per cent of total employment.
“The Middle East travel and tourism industry is poised for robust growth in 2004. The stage has been set for travel and tourism demand to forge ahead to extraordinary levels of growth following three years of economic uncertainty and reluctance by consumers to travel,” said WTTC president, Jean-Claude Baumgarten. “I am cautiously optimistic that we have weathered the perfect storm of terrorism, war and health concerns that created a disproportionate toll of concern and impact on our consumers, the industry and our economy.”
Speaking about the state of the industry, Baumgarten continued, “We’ve learned a number of lessons these past three years about travel and tourism’s sensitivity to external events. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons is that the economic impact of the industry goes well beyond the traditional notion of airlines, hotels, car rental agencies and tour operators, but reaches well into the fabric of our economies. When the front line of travel and tourism is hit by a fall in demand, our entire economy suffers. And although the industry can and does do a great deal to help alleviate the concerns of our customers and get them moving again, government officials must step in and become partners with the industry to strengthen its position and resolve.”