Deloitte reveals success of ME tourism industry


Despite the financial turmoil of the past months, global tourism is thriving and is expected to generate some $8 trillion during 2008. There will be years of growth ahead in the emerging markets of India and China, but the big success story today remains in the Middle East, according to a new report by Deloitte a professional services firm, that analysed hotel performance across the Middle East region and the key factors driving growth.
In 2007, the region had the largest increase in visitor numbers in the world - up to 13 per cent - with Saudi Arabia enjoying one of the best growth rates across the ME, at almost 51 per cent.
The region had the largest rise in air passengers in 2007 as well, and is spending around $43 billion improving its airports. Its hotel business grew faster than any other region, apart from Central and South America, with revPAR up 17 per cent.
Omar Fahoum, CEO Deloitte Middle East said, “The Middle East is now achieving the strongest levels of occupancy and average room rates in the world and with the second fastest growth rate, a five year run of double-digit growth is now looking to be a racing certainty”. 
The aviation industry is responding to the surge in tourist arrivals by strengthening existing connections and introducing new routes, giving access to an increasing number of source markets. Several low cost carriers have recently expanded and entered into the market making it easier to travel locally. In 2007, the Middle East had the world’s fastest growing air traffic – up more than 18 per cent
and the world’s fastest growing tourist arrivals – up 13 per cent, knocking
Asia Pacific into second
In Dubai, around $14.3 billion will be spent in the next five years on tourism infrastructure, such as roads, a metro system and a water taxi scheme, while the tallest building on earth – the Burj Dubai – just gets taller.
There has been exceptionally strong growth in markets like Egypt and Jordan, which have lagged behind in recent years; while Oman, offering a more cultured experience than the year round “suntan with shopping” of some destinations in the Gulf, saw a massive rise in revPAR in 2007, up by more than 50 per cent.
Rob O’Hanlon, Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure Partner for Deloitte Middle East said, “With its ancient forts, castles and archaeological sites, the country holds considerable appeal for culture seekers and historians”.   So far in 2008, the region’s hotels are enjoying some of the world’s highest occupancy figures, strongest revPAR and best average room rates, and with predictions that international visitor numbers here will grow between 6 to 10 per cent in 2008, compared to a global rate of three to four per cent, there seem to be few clouds to spoil the region’s sunny outlook.
In this edition of Hospitality Vision, the Middle East Performance Review, Deloitte looks at the numbers and the countries in detail and considers the challenges facing hoteliers in this region. The report can be downloaded from: https://,1044,sid per cent253D13723,00.html