GCC turns to China and India to boost growth in tourism receipts….reports Asian Lite News
Major tourism destinations in the GCC will increase efforts to target Indian and Chinese inbound tourists, as regional and international guests from Europe continue to feel the acute financial pressures of the challenging global economy.
The findings were published by Colliers International at Arabian Travel Market, at Dubai World Trade Centre, during a seminar session entitled ‘Capitalising on Experiential Travel: China & India Mega Source Markets’.
Already key markets for the region, China counts an average of 122 million outbound tourists annually and India contributes 22 million, with overseas spending calculated to be $252 billion and $15.4 billion respectively in 2015. China’s outbound tourism market is currently growing, on average, 6.7 percent year-on-year, while India’s market posts average annual growth of 7 percent.
DebrahDhugga, Managing Director, DUKES London and DUKES Dubai, said: “The GCC is home to a number of globally-recognised tourist attractions and continues to draw visitors from all over the world as a result. As markets in Europe and other GCC countries continue to feel the pressure of low oil prices and depreciated currency rates, it is key that tourism bodies and private sector hospitality, travel and tourism brands continue to explore new markets.
“The growth seen from China and India has driven tourist arrivals across the region over the near past and we have seen this reflected in our recent guest profiles.”
The trend is largely proliferated by increasing levels of personal wealth and a demand for experiential travel.
Filippo Sona, Director, Head of Hotels MENA region, Colliers International, said: “The growing middle class and cheaper flight options are transforming the outbound travel landscape for these two countries, with a combined 146 million passport holders.
“On the one hand, GCC cities are becoming increasingly interested in forging long-lasting relationships with Chinese companies, particularly in the fields of construction, infrastructure planning, oil & gas, and manufacturing. On the other hand, countries such as the UAE and Oman are increasing their efforts to attract Indian leisure tourists, through targeted entertainment offerings and promotional activities, while Saudi Arabia is expected to ramp up the visa quotas for the large Muslim Indian population to visit the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.”
Making a total of 12 recommendations concerning visas, accommodation, cultural sensitivities and marketing, the report advises GCC-wide multi-entry visas with similar principles to the Schengen Area; hotel welcome kits and signage in guests’ native languages; promotion of cultural celebrations and festivals from each country; and targeted loyalty programmes.
Colliers International also assessed the compatibility of key GCC destinations with four traveller types: Corporate, MICE attendees, leisure first-timers and experienced leisure travellers, for both Indian and Chinese visitors.
The UAE scored the highest level of compatibility for both nationalities thanks to its blend of modernity and culture, strong trade ties with both countries and growing airlift between major cities.
In both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, India was the top performing source market in 2016. In Dubai, 1.8 million nationals arrived last year compared to 1.6 million in 2015 and in Abu Dhabi, which welcomed a record-breaking 4.4 million visitors in total in 2016, 323,388 were Indian. According to the figures from Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, this marked an increase of 15% on 2015.
Chinese visitor numbers to Dubai were also strong, with 540,000 Chinese arrivals in 2016, up from 450,000 in 2015, cementing the country’s place as a top 10 source market for the emirate.
In Abu Dhabi, plans to attract 600,000 Chinese tourists a year by 2021 would represent a 265 percent increase on the figures recorded for the first nine months of 2016, according to data from the emirate’s Tourism and Culture Authority.