Friday 29 September 2023

GCC to welcome 3m Chinese tourists by 2022

DUBAI, December 19, 2018

The number of travellers visiting the Middle East from China is expected to increase 81 per cent, from 1.6 million in 2018 to 2.9 million in 2022, a Wam report said, citing recent data published ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2019, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 28 to May 1, 2019.

The latest research from Colliers International, in partnership with ATM 2019, reveals that the GCC countries currently attract just 1 per cent of China’s total outbound market. However, positive trends are expected over the coming years as 400 million Chinese tourists are expected to go abroad in 2030 – up from 154 million in 2018.

Looking at the economic drivers, China’s links with the GCC have strengthened in recent years due to the introduction of additional and direct airline routes; the strong growth of the Chinese economy and Chinese tourists’ increasing disposable income, the report said.

Danielle Curtis, exhibition director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said, "China is set to account for a quarter of international tourism by 2030 – and owing to its many business and investment opportunities, as well as a new generation of leisure attractions and retail destinations, the GCC is set to capitalise on this growth with millions of Chinese tourists about to make their first international trip.

"Last year, the number of Chinese exhibitors participating at ATM almost doubled and this trend looks set to continue as we look ahead to ATM 2019.

The Colliers data shows Saudi Arabia will experience the highest proportionate increase in arrivals from China, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33 per cent between 2018 and 2022. Both the kingdom and China’s cultural and educational exchanges have been cited as one of the key elements driving this influx, it said.

Looking at the remainder of the GCC, the UAE will follow with a forecasted CAGR of 13 per cent, Oman at 12 per cent and both Bahrain and Kuwait will steadily increase their Chinese visitor arrivals with a growth of 7 per cent.

In the UAE, China is the fifth largest source market behind India, Saudi Arabia, the UK and Oman. Over the last 12 months, the UAE has stepped up its efforts to attract more Chinese visitors with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) recently signing an agreement with Chinese internet giant Tencent to promote the emirate as a preferred destination for Chinese travellers.

Meanwhile, in Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait, passport holders from China can now receive a 30-day visa on arrival.

"It is interesting to note that just 7 per cent of the total Chinese population possess a passport, compared to approximately 40 per cent of Americans and 76 per cent of British. The outbound Chinese market, therefore, represents a vast, untapped pool of affluent and adventurous travellers and the GCC is stepping up its efforts to ensure it remains a destination of choice," Curtis added.

Over the last 10 years, airports in the Middle East and China have shown the fastest increase in hub connectivity worldwide with Emirates, Etihad, Saudia, Gulf Air, China Eastern and Air China all providing direct flights between the GCC and various destinations in China.

Emirates, a leading passenger service provider from the GCC to China, now offers 38 weekly flights between both destinations.

During 2018, China Eastern announced plans to launch thrice-weekly direct flights between Shanghai and Dubai – further complementing the airline’s three existing flights between Shanghai and Dubai, which have a stopover in Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan province.

Tags: China | GCC | tourists |

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