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UAE in top 10 global tourism earners

UAE tourism Dubai Tourism
The UAE jumped from 13th place to sixth on the global tourism revenues table last year, overtaking Turkey, which also rose, but only to seventh
  • Up from 13th to sixth
  • Turkey rises to seventh
  • Revenues close to $52bn

UAE tourism revenues reached nearly $52 billion in 2023, catapulting the Gulf state up seven places to sixth position on the list of top 10 global tourism earners, a new UN report reveals.

The United States is the top earner in the latest UN world tourism barometer, with $176 billion last year, followed by Spain ($92 billion), the United Kingdom ($74 billion) and France ($69 billion), the UAE’s state-run Wam news agency reported.

Italy was just ahead of the UAE at $56 billion, while Turkey, which rose from 12th to seventh, earned nearly $50 billion.

Australia ($47 billion), Canada ($39 billion) and Japan (also $39 billion) made it to the last three places in the top 10 list.

Khaled Al Midfa, chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, said last month that the tourism sector’s contribution to the UAE’s economy is expected to reach AED236 billion ($64 billion) in 2024, accounting for 12 percent of overall GDP.

The UAE tourism strategy seeks to increase the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP to AED450 billion by 2031, attract new investment of AED100 billion and welcome 40 million guests to the country’s hotels by the next decade.

The six GCC governments, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are exploring ways to co-operate on tourism, including a unified visa expected to become available by the end of the year.

According to the UN barometer, Chinese expenditure on travel abroad reached $196.5 billion in 2023, beating the US ($150 billion), Germany ($112 billion), the UK ($110 billion) and France ($49 billion).  

International tourist arrivals in 2023 recovered to 89 percent of 2019 levels, and 97 percent in Q1 2024.

The UN projection expects a full recovery in 2024, with arrivals growing 2 percent above 2019 levels, backed by strong demand, enhanced air connectivity and the continued recovery of China and other major Asian markets.

Tourism direct GDP recovered to pre-pandemic levels in 2023, reaching an estimated $3.3 trillion, equivalent to 3 percent of global GDP.

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