Dubai announces major beach development plan

Dubai will have five times as many beaches by 2040, following a major announcement to develop tourism and wellbeing for residents.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai made the announcement on social media, after a visit to Jebel Ali Beach.

The ambitious plans will see the emirate increase the area of beaches in the emirate from 21km to 105km.

Dubai beach plan

Sheikh Mohammed said there will also be a 300 per cent increase in the services on public beaches by 2025.

Sheikh Mohammed’s Twitter message said: “Within the Dubai Urban Plan, we have adopted the development and doubling of public beaches by 400% by 2040. increasing its area from 21km now to 105km and raising the percentage of services by 300% on public beaches by 2025.

We launched the first urban plan in Dubai in the 1960s. Development in Dubai is continuing and we are still at the beginning. We will continue to provide the best standard of living for individuals and families in services and projects globally”

“The new urban projects will add to the renewed dazzle in the emirate and will support our economic and tourism agenda for the next decade.”

Sheikh Mohammed said the city will continue to compete with itself to be the ideal place for visitors and residents.

“Our goal is to consolidate the leading position achieved by Dubai as one of the most beautiful and most developed cities in the world,” he added.

Earlier this month it was announced a new beach in the city will be dog-friendly and a hub for water sports.

The newly opened beach will be the first family-friendly beach in the city to allow dogs to swim, says developer Nakheel.

The new beach is located along the emirate’s northern coastline and is now open from sunrise to sunset.

The new beach is poised to become the go-to destination for water sports and beach sports enthusiasts, just a few steps away from Centara Mirage Beach Resort and Hotel Riu.

SOURCE: Arabianbusiness.

New narratives in Tourism: UNWTO leads rethink of Tourism communications

Against the backdrop of the 118th session of its Executive Council in Punta Cana, UNWTO hosted a special Thematic Session. Alongside assessing the evolution of tourism communications, the Session saw leading experts explore current and future opportunities for more effectively portraying tourism as an essential driver of development, both in traditional media and on content platforms.

“New Narratives in Tourism”

With tourism high on the political agenda like never before, UNWTO is leading the shift in tourism communications, with a greater focus on the sector’s unique power as a driver of development and opportunity. Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “We have made huge progress over the past few years in making tourism’s relevance more visible and more appreciated, by governments and by tourists themselves. But we need to make it even clearer. For this reason, UNWTO is working to build a new narrative around tourism as a force for development and transformation.”

The Thematic Session offered a platform to connect content creators with editors and new media platforms, with UNWTO as the bridge between the two.

Branding and Media Experts Lead the Change
 Representing the global leader Interbrand, Pedro Zarzalejos, Associate Director, Strategy and Borja Borrero, Executive Director Iberia, EMEA & Latam charted the evolution of branding and analysed how this has impacted the tourism sector.
 Michael Collins, Founder and Managing of Travel Media gave expert insights into the changing relationship between Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) and editors, journalists and content creators.

Instagram and Meta: Keeping Content Relevant
UNWTO first partnered with Instagram in 2021, firstly to help lead recovery from the impacts of the pandemic and then to empower destinations to embrace digital storytelling. In Punta Cana:
 From Instagram, Ernest Voyard, Director of Public Policy, noted how creators are increasingly moving beyond aspirational travel-related content and instead focusing on issues around sustainability and full immersion in destinations.
 From Meta, Sharon Yang, Director of External Affairs, noted how the platform has seen a shift towards creators providing informative tourism and travel-related content, again moving away from more aspirational images and films.

Tourism on the Agenda: The Case of Dominican Republic
Leading journalists and editors from the Dominican Republic assessed how to place tourism on the editorial agenda at every level.
 Leading the discussion were Director of Diario Libre, Inés Aizpún, Director of El Día José Monegro, and the Ambassador of the permanent mission of Dominican Republic to UNWTO Aníbal de Castro
 The panel highlighted the importance of diversifying the main messaging, with a focus on everything from film and TV tourism to gastronomy tourism

Content Creators: Raising Awareness
To round out the session, UNWTO welcomed leading content creators to give their expert insights into changing trends in tourism-related content: Instagram Creators Chloé Léger and Marion Payr, provided their experiences from the Dominican Republic from the point-of-view of tourism and travel-creators. They noted:
 A growing interest in content linking tourism with issues including women’s empowerment, community development and wildlife conservation.

 An opportunity for creators to influence the travel choices and behaviours of tourists, in particular in influencing younger consumers to travel more responsibly and ethically.

SOURCE: Travel News Africa

WTTC calls for urgent action on sustainable aviation fuel

Today, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is urging governments worldwide to take decisive action in incentivizing the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and establish ambitious targets to meet the demand.

WTTC emphasizes that without a significant supply of SAF, the aviation industry will struggle to achieve its commitment to reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, as supported by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the industry itself. To attain net zero carbon emissions, the aviation sector aims to:

  1. Maximize emission reductions through the use of SAF, as well as innovative technologies like hydrogen and electric propulsion.
  2. Deploy fuel-efficient aircraft fleets.
  3. Improve operational efficiency, such as in air navigation.
  4. Explore out-of-sector solutions like offsetting or carbon capture.

SAF is expected to play a crucial role in achieving net zero emissions by 2050. However, current production rates fall short of meeting the demand, and prices remain high despite recent increases in production.

WTTC is calling for immediate action, emphasizing that governments’ climate goals, aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement, and their economic growth commitments are at stake, as aviation is essential for tourism, trade, and global connectivity. To address this urgent issue, WTTC urges governments to:

  1. Provide strong incentives, such as tax credits, grants, or financial incentives, to encourage investment in SAF production.
  2. Collaborate with the aviation sector to establish ambitious SAF production targets.
  3. Coordinate actions through ICAO to ensure global uniformity in SAF regulations, sustainability standards, procedures, and organization.
  4. The United States serves as an example of a successful incentive program through the Inflation Reduction Act, which created tax incentives for SAF production.

Julia Simpson, President & CEO of WTTC, emphasizes the need for governments to prioritize sustainable aviation fuel production. She calls for immediate action, as the current production of SAF meets only a fraction of the demand. Simpson emphasizes that financial support and incentives are necessary to bridge the cost disparity between SAF and traditional fossil fuels, and without such targets and incentives, decarbonization of the aviation sector will be

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has also launched a policy, SAF Deployment, which urges governments to facilitate the scaling up of SAF production and promote harmonized policies across countries and industries.

In partnership with ICF, WTTC is launching a white paper titled “Sustainable Aviation Fuels: The Implications & Opportunities for Tourism Destinations.” This publication aims to demystify the impact and benefits of SAF for tourism destinations and outlines three critical actions destinations should take to address the challenge and embrace the opportunities associated with SAF.

SOURCE: Travel News Africa

Qatar Airways and Air Seychelles Sign Codeshare Agreement

Qatar Airways announces a codeshare agreement with Air Seychelles, the flag carrier of the Republic of Seychelles, allowing passengers on both networks seamless travel to one of the world’s most exotic and unique destinations.

Qatar Airways serves over 160 destinations worldwide and connects travellers from Africa, America, Asia and Europe easily to and from Seychelles through its hub in Doha, Hamad International Airport (HIA), currently named the ‘Best Airport in the Middle East’. Moreover, Qatar Airways Privilege Club members can also earn and spend Avios at almost 200 outlets at Qatar Duty Free (QDF).

Currently, Qatar Airways operates a daily flight between HIA and Seychelles International Airport (SEZ), located on the Island of Mahé, near the capital city of Victoria, with a morning arrival and evening departure from Mahé Island. Because of this new codeshare agreement, Qatar Airways will place its code on Air Seychelles’ operated flights between Mahé and Praslin and enable passengers to continue their journey conveniently using a single booking. Praslin is home to the pristine Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site along with palm-fringed beaches, like Anse Georgette and Anse Lazio, both bordered by large granite boulders. Passengers can book their travel with both airlines, through online travel agencies, as well as with local travel agents.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Our strategy of facilitating connectivity to African markets through partnerships is in line with this enhanced cooperation with Air Seychelles. Our two airlines are pleased to work together to benefit passengers with more travel choices and to support the tourism industry in Seychelles.”

Air Seychelles maintains its domestic network with a fleet of five Twin Otter TurboProps operating between Mahé and Praslin as well as charter flights. The airline celebrated 45 years in October 2022 and won the title ‘Indian Ocean’s Leading Airline’ at the World Travel Awards held in Kenya.
Air Seychelles, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Captain Sandy Benoiton, said: “This new partnership will provide passengers with new connection opportunities and access to unique destinations from both networks.”

SOURCE: Breaking Travel News

A New Era of Airline Retailing: Inside Sabre’s Busy NDC Launch Schedule

As travelers seek better shopping and booking experiences, travel companies must transform both the technology powering their retailing systems and the organizational culture behind them. Recent milestones within Sabre’s Beyond NDC program demonstrate how the company is advancing new retailing opportunities across the entire travel value chain.

Today’s travelers have higher expectations than ever. They not only want personalized experiences and customizable options, but greater transparency and more convenient ways to manage their plans. To help travel companies meet these expectations, Sabre is accelerating its Beyond NDC program, which enables third-party travel retailers to sell personalized offers and real-time content.

“Since January, the Sabre team is proud to have launched New Distribution Capability (NDC) offers from American Airlines, United Airlines, Finnair, and most recently Lufthansa Group in a soft launch capacity,” said Kathy Morgan, vice president of NDC and airline supply at Sabre. “We’re now focused on collaborating with the airlines to encourage travel agency adoption. We hope this news makes agencies take notice that NDC is no longer an experiment — it’s here.”

In April, American Airlines made headlines as it embarked on this transformation. The airline is now providing NDC offers through Sabre’s global distribution system, reserving upwards of 40 percent of its fares for NDC-powered channels and direct booking channels. SkiftX spoke with Morgan to examine the business case for transitioning to NDC-enabled retailing and to understand how to navigate the associated challenges.

The Case for Transitioning to Offer and Order Retailing

“An offer and order framework is foundational to modern retailing,” Morgan said. “Other industries such as entertainment, online shopping, and finance already use an offer and order framework, utilizing data insights, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence to give consumers valuable, relevant, and seamless experiences. This is what the airline industry needs to meet the expectations of today’s travelers.”

With offer and order retailing supported by NDC, airlines create various offers in real time. These offers may include products and services like seat selection, extra leg-room, or Wi-Fi. Longer term, these offers may expand to products not traditionally sold by airlines, such as hotel add-ons and other extras that can be bundled together seamlessly by third-party retailers based on travelers’ needs.

By gaining access to a broader selection of offers from airlines, travel retailers can support the needs of different types of travelers, as well as create new cross-sell and upsell opportunities for travel agencies. Payment, settlement, delivery, and reconciliation processes are consolidated and streamlined via orders.

“Not only does NDC open the door to more retailing opportunities for airlines, but it also enhances personalization and choice for travelers when shopping for travel and managing trips,” Morgan said. “Sabre’s overarching strategy is rooted in understanding these customer needs.”

The Impact of NDC-Powered Channels on the Travel Retailing Ecosystem While Sabre’s increasing number of NDC-integrated airlines signals a growing commitment from the airline industry to embrace NDC offers and enhance travel retailing, Morgan acknowledges that many travel sellers face a change management challenge that will take time and resources.

“Technology that has been optimized over decades is changing, and this change will require travel agencies to adapt or even eliminate many long-standing practices,” Morgan said. “In addition, the NDC standards remain a work in progress, so travel agencies will need to keep a lot of plates spinning. They’ll need to manage commercial, technical, and operational changes throughout their organizations.”

In terms of commercial changes, travel retailers should discuss with their partners how commercial terms may change for NDC bookings. On the technical side, the transition will not require an abrupt change, but rather a gradual
hybrid approach with traditional travel options available alongside NDC offers.

To that end, Morgan said Sabre is “integrating multiple types of content and normalizing how that content is displayed in our APIs and point-of-sale applications to make it easier for users to compare options and make informed purchases.”

Finally, when it comes to operational changes, Morgan said the most important thing to remember is that “all stakeholders in the travel value chain, including corporations, corporate booking tools, agencies, aggregators, and suppliers, must work together to prepare their systems to scale for NDC.”

Navigating the NDC Transition Path

Even as these exciting digital transformation initiatives ripple across the airline retailing ecosystem, the associated short-term challenges can be difficult to navigate.

“NDC is an industry standard, but the implementations aren’t standard,” Morgan said. “There’s tremendous flexibility and room for interpretation of the standards, which results with each one being unique.”

On managing these complexities, Morgan says her team does the heavy lifting, “from supporting multiple versions of NDC technical schemas, to accounting for country-specific tax guidelines, to integrating mid- and back-office workflow requirements, and more. Our agency point-of-sale solution, Sabre Red 360, and our online corporate booking tool, GetThere, consume the offer and order APIs to display and manage NDC offers. The Sabre NDC capabilities are built to
scale from day one.”

But not all airlines have the same strategy or pace for change. Regardless of airline decisions, Morgan said Sabre’s development work ensures the Sabre marketplace adds value for agencies no matter where the content comes from.
“Whether you’re an enthusiastic adopter of NDC — which I hope is the case — or need more time to assess NDC, we are ready to help you think through options and navigate this important industry change.”


Travel demand to remain strong despite recession concerns, WTTC chief says

Travel will remain strong on the back of robust demand in select emerging economies even
as a potential recession looms, a top executive at the World Travel and Tourism Council has
“At the moment, the bookings we’re seeing are record breaking [and] when you survey
people, and you ask what are their most important needs in life, travel is now number three,”
Julia Simpson, WTTC president and chief executive, told The National in an exclusive
“We also have emerging middle classes. India is a massive growth market, China is an
incredible market [and] the Japanese market is coming back.”
The global travel and tourism sector is expected to reach $9.5 trillion in 2023, only 5 per cent
below 2019 highs, the WTTC reported.
Despite economic and geopolitical challenges, the industry grew 22 per cent to reach $7.7
trillion last year.
An aggressive return to travel post-Covid-19 has resulted in bottlenecks and delays,
particularly in the aviation industry.
The sector has also been facing severe staffing shortages following the lifting of pandemic-
related restrictions last year.
“Demand is outstripping supply … the airlines at the minute can only fly 80 per cent of their
capacity because there’s a backlog in the number of planes that people can buy and also in
some parts of the world, there are some labour shortage pressures,” said Ms Simpson.
“We’ve got people that may have left the sector [and] not all of them have come back,
although that is beginning to improve.”
Global passenger traffic rebounded to 15 per cent below its pre-pandemic levels in February,
led by airlines in the Asia-Pacific region, which recorded the fastest growth, the International
Air Transport Association said in a report last month.
Total passenger traffic worldwide increased by 55.5 per cent on an annual basis in February,
despite the uncertainty hanging over the global economy, Iata said.
The global economy faces a “rocky” recovery as geopolitics, monetary tightening and
inflation continue to weigh on growth, the International Monetary Fund said last month.
The IMF lowered its global economic growth estimate for this year by 0.1 percentage points
to 2.8 per cent, from what it previously projected in January, with the estimate below the 3.4
per cent expansion recorded in 2022 and the historical growth average of 3.8 per cent from
2000 to 2019.

High inflation could also pose a risk to the travel and tourism industry’s recovery, Ms
Simpson said.
Although airports and airlines try to avoid passing higher costs on to their customers, “it has
to be paid for” at the end of the day.
“That is why you will see some higher fares in the market and also higher prices in hotels,”
she added.
Meanwhile, Ms Simpson also called for an increase in sustainable aviation fuel
production using economic incentives.
SAF, which is made from resources such as agricultural waste, green hydrogen and cooking
oil, is widely considered to be the most significant contributor to helping the sector reach its
net-zero emissions target by 2050.
Countries could consider introducing policies similar to the US Inflation Reduction Act, which
provides SAF producers with a tax credit of $1.25 per gallon, Ms Simpson said.
Current SAF production only meets 0.1 per cent to 0.15 per cent of the requirement, despite
a 200 per cent jump in production last year, according to the WTTC.
“One of the big problems with SAF at the minute is it can cost up to five times as much as jet
fuel. Now, aviation is a very price-sensitive business … that’s why we need the financial
offsets [and] some form of grants or subsidies,” said Ms Simpson.
SOURCE: The National News

Flydubai and Air Canada announce a codeshare partnership

Flydubai, the Dubai-based carrier, announced a new partnership with Air Canada to give customers flying between Canada, the Middle East, East Africa, Indian Subcontinent and Southern Asia more convenient travel options.

Pending final regulatory approval, Air Canada’s marketing code will be placed on nine routes operated from Dubai by flydubai, giving customers the ability to travel to these markets with the issuance of a single ticket. The nine routes include Bahrain, Dammam, Jeddah, Madinah and Muscat in the GCC as well as to Colombo and Karachi in the Indian Subcontinent.

Additionally, through an interline arrangement, customers will be able to seamlessly connect in Dubai to more than 60 destinations that flydubai flies to in the Middle East, East Africa and Southern Asia – including Djibouti, Kathmandu and the Maldives. Of these destinations, more than 30 are unique to flydubai and not flown by other partners of Air Canada.

Commenting on the codeshare announcement, Hamad Obaidalla, Chief Commercial Officer at flydubai, said: “we are very pleased to be adding Air Canada to our list of partners and to offer their passengers a seamless travel experience on the flydubai network. We look forward to growing this partnership that offers passengers the benefits and the convenience of connecting via the Dubai aviation hub and we look forward to welcoming them on board soon.”

Mark Galardo, Executive Vice President, Revenue and Network Planning at Air Canada, said: “Air Canada is very pleased to partner with flydubai, further expanding our connectivity to the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, a growing source of immigration and travel to Canada. This new partnership is a perfect complement to Air Canada’s nonstop service to Dubai from Toronto and Vancouver, and growing our relationship with Emirates, flydubai’s codeshare partner. Together we look forward to bringing together our networks and building a better experience for our customers.”

The airlines also plan on further improving the connection process in Dubai and are working toward introducing expanded features and benefits for one another’s loyalty programme members to be announced later this year.
Seats are available for sale now at, via Air Canada’s Contact Centres, and through travel agents.

SOURCE: flydubai

Etihad Cargo launches AI-powered solutions to transform operations

Etihad Cargo, the cargo and logistics arm of Etihad Airways, has launched an innovative artificial intelligence (AI)-powered solution to transform airfreight operations and boost cargo capacity on flights.

Etihad Cargo had entered into a proof-of-concept agreement in 2021 with logistics technology solutions provider Speedcargo Technologies, becoming one of only a few global carriers to leverage the Singapore-based provider’s AI products to maximise cargo capacity on flights. “Following successful trials of Speedcargo’s AI solutions, Etihad Cargo has rolled out three AI-powered products — Amplifi, Cargo Eye and Assemble — to boost efficiency, digitise and standardise cargo handling across Etihad Cargo’s network, and enhance service levels for the carrier’s customers and partners.

Etihad Cargo uses Amplifi to optimise cargo loads on each flight. The technology dynamically calculates free and usable capacity based on booked cargo, aircraft type and cargo offer. Utilising the system-generated ULD level load plans, Etihad Cargo will maximise the cargo carried on its flights and significantly reduce the risk of overbookings. “Cargo Eye is a scalable, modular system that captures cargo dimensions and volume data. Powered by Microsoft’s IoT Edge solutions and Speedcargo’s proprietary algorithms, Cargo Eye allows Etihad Cargo to digitise cargo as it enters the carrier’s ground handling stations, enabling real-time sharing of cargo information for load planning, build-up planning and forward operations.

Etihad Cargo will deploy Assemble across the carrier’s network of ground handling stations to facilitate the digital planning and build-up of ULDs using the load plans generated by Amplifi. Offering a user-friendly solution, Amplifi provides ground handling partners with build-up plans that provide step-by-step instructions for optimally built ULDs that conform to safety regulations.

Martin Drew, Senior Vice President – Global Sales & Cargo, Etihad Airways says: “Since embarking on its digitalisation strategy in 2018, Etihad Cargo has developed, trialled and launched new technologies and solutions to provide customers and partners with an improved service offering. The recently completed trials of Speedcargo’s AI-powered solutions have demonstrated it is possible to improve cargo capacity utilisation across Etihad Cargo’s fleet and standardise cargo acceptance and build-up processes to improve the consistency and quality of cargo handling at stations within Etihad Cargo’s network.

Etihad Cargo, with the launch of these AI solutions, is creating an information-rich network that connects airline operations and ground handling for better planning and decision-making. Creating digital audit trails of how cargo is received and handled will benefit Etihad Cargo’s customers by providing a more seamless end-to-end experience and improving the productivity and efficiency of planners and ground handling partners, with the ability to handle multiple flights simultaneously.” Trials of the AI-powered, end-to-end cargo handling solutions were carried out in Singapore where this technology has been deployed and is already utilised by Etihad Cargo’s ground handling partners, the release added. The carrier has also launched a pilot programme to implement these solutions in Frankfurt, and is actively collaborating with ground handling partners across Etihad Cargo’s global network.


Kenya Airways to Operate SAF-Powered Nairobi-Amsterdam Flight as Part of Sustainable Flight Challenge

Kenya Airways (KQ) will operate an SAF-powered flight on Africa Day as part of The Sustainable Flight Challenge (TSFC) by SkyTeam. This is a friendly competition between SkyTeam members to promote sustainability and make air travel greener.

This year, TSFC has extended the invitation to alliance members as it seeks to spearhead environmental change. Kenya Airways will work with its subsidiary Jambojet to discover several solutions that can reduce aviation’s impact on the environment by improving sustainability.

KQ’s SAF-powered flight

As part of the sustainability challenge, KQ will operate a flight powered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), which is expected to provide essential data and insights that can determine policy decisions, industry regulations, and best practices related to the use of SAF.

The pilot flight will be operated on May 25, 2023, on the return flight between Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta (NBO) and Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS). This will be a very significant milestone for the airline and the continent.Kenya Airways will deploy its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner on the flight. On the same day, the continent will celebrate African unity and development, with milestones like this set to be part of its future. KQ Group CEO and Managing Director Allan Kilavuka said;

“As an aviation industry, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are actively playing a critical role geared towards solutions and shared learning for sustainable solutions and practices in our industry. This year as our red tail goes green again, we aim to support the industry in achieving net-zero by 2050. We are committed to adopting better practices and creating partnerships with people of similar vision.”

Starting in 2025, all flights taking off from European airports must incorporate a portion of Sustainable Aviation Fuels. Kenya Airways seeks to leverage the industry-wide SAF momentum to unlock competitive advantages in the African aviation market.

SkyTeam and TSFC

SkyTeam is one of the world’s leading airline alliances, with 19 members. Kenya Airways has been a part of SkyTeam since 2007 and is the only African airline in the alliance. KQ and 21 other airlines will participate in the second edition of The Sustainable Flight Challenge.

Launched in 2022, TSFC has returned, and it will take place between May 15 and 28. It is the only sustainability initiative of its kind, aiming to drive meaningful change in the short term.

In the name of “friendly competition,” participating airlines will be challenged to operate their flights as sustainably as possible, above and below wing, from pushback to parking stand. After the competition, airlines will share their innovations and solutions to enhance sustainability.

There are seven categories with awards for the lowest CO2 emissions, greatest CO2 reduction, lowest CO2 emissions ground operations, best in-flight waste management, best collaboration, best adoption, and the best innovation. All qualifying flights have to be part of the airline’s existing network.

Kenya Airways’ commitment to sustainability

The winners of the 2023 sustainability challenge will be recognized in October, with Kenya Airways looking to bring some awards home. The airline will focus on the six essential categories, including e-mobility for passengers and travel light policies.

KQ is fully committed and invested in helping the industry achieve sustainable growth through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. CSR highlights its dedication to economic, environmental, and social issues.

Through this, the airline will support activities in education, environment conservation, community well-being, health, water and sanitation, and disaster and humanitarian relief. CSR will be the pillar of reliability, efficiency, and sustainable development in Africa.

KQ has completed various projects at schools and community centers in Africa. Its commitment to education is driven by the belief that a solid educational foundation will ensure that young people are appropriately skilled for the demanding job market.

Source: Simple Flying

UAE Travel & Tourism sector set to recover this year, says WTTC

The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2023 Economic Impact Research (EIR) today reveals the UAE Travel & Tourism sector is projected to meet the 2019 peak this year.

The sector is set to contribute AED 180.6 billion to the UAE economy by the end of 2023, almost matching the 2019 high AED 183.4 billion, only 1.5% behind pre-pandemic levels. This represents nearly 10% of the total economy.

WTTC is also forecasting that the sector will create nearly 7,000 jobs this year, surpassing the pre-pandemic peak of 745,100, to reach more than 758,000 employed by Travel & Tourism.

A look back on last year

Last year, the Travel & Tourism sector’s GDP contribution grew more than 60% to reach nearly AED 167 billion, representing 9% of the country’s economy.

The sector also created more than 89,000 more jobs from the previous year to reach more than 751,000 jobs nationally, surpassing 2019 levels by an additional 6,000 jobs.

2022 saw the return of international travellers to the UAE, with India (13%), Oman (8%), Saudi Arabia (8%), and UK (7%) leading as source markets for international arrivals.

According to the data, in 2022, international visitors contributed AED 117.6 billion to the national economy, representing a year-on-year growth of 65.3%, although 19% behind 2019 levels.

In terms of domestic spend, 2022 saw a 35.7% year-on-year jump, reaching AED 46.9 billion, 10.6% above its pre-pandemic counterpart.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “The national Travel & Tourism sector is recovering at a rapid pace, proving the UAE continues to grow in popularity amongst international travellers. The UAE is home to one of the world’s busiest and successful airports, Dubai International, which acts as a gateway to the Middle East.

“The future for the sector looks positive. By the end of this year, the sector’s contribution will level that of 2019, and over the next decade, growth will outstrip the national GDP and create more than 114,000 new jobs, representing one in nine jobs.

“Our recent Cities EIR Report highlighted the appeal tourist destinations across the country, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, continue to hold for international travellers. These cities have shown an incredible resilience and strong leadership.”

What does the next decade look like?

The global tourism body is forecasting that the sector will grow its GDP contribution to AED 235.5 billion by 2033, representing 10.2% of the UAE economy.

Over the next decade, Travel & Tourism is set to employ more than 872,000 people across the country, representing nearly 12% of all jobs.

Middle East

In 2022, the Middle East’s Travel & Tourism sector contributed more than AED 1.2 trillion to the regional economy, 25.3% below the 2019 peak. By the end of this year, WTTC forecasts the regional sector’s GDP contribution will reach more than AED 1.5 trillion (U.S.$ 413.2 billion) and be within touching distance of the 2019 highpoint.

According to WTTC’s latest Economic Impact Report, the sector employed more than 6.8 million people across the region last year, an increase of 865,000 from the previous year, but still 8.7% behind the 2019 peak. The sector will nearly recover the jobs lost during the pandemic by the end of this year, only 2% behind pre-pandemic levels.

Over the next decade, the Travel & Tourism sector is projected to reach a contribution of nearly AED 2.5 trillion and employ more than 9.8 million people.