ACCORDING to the latest Colliers International data published by Reed Travel Exhibitions ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2019 taking place from April 28 to May 1, 2019, more than 63 per cent of the 89 million passengers who passed through Dubai airport in 2018 were in transit, with just 8 per cent of these passengers leaving the airport to explore the emirate.
As Dubai targets 20 million annual visitors by 2020, plus an additional five million between October 2020 and April 2021 for Expo 2020 – 70 per cent of which will come from outside the UAE – a number of initiatives to increase stopover tourism have been introduced, including new transit visas and dedicated tourism packages.
Danielle Curtis, exhibition director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Last year, the UAE introduced a new transit visa allowing all transit passengers an exemption from entry fees for 48 hours with the option to extend up to 96 hours for Dh50 ($13.61). This visa is not only good for the country’s tourism sector but for the local economy as a whole, enticing passengers to view their transit not as an unwanted delay in their travels – but as a good opportunity to add value to their trip and experience everything the UAE has to offer.”
According to IATA, the Middle East is predicted to see an extra 290 million air passengers on routes to, from and within the region by 2037, with the total market size increasing to 501 million passengers during the same period.
“This projected growth underscores Dubai, and of course the Middle East, as the ideal location to bring together professionals from the aviation and tourism industry for our inaugural CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa forum which will be co-located alongside ATM 2019 – taking place on the last two days of the show,” Curtis said.
The success of the aviation industry in the sky is matched in the GCC and wider MENA region by the continued huge infrastructure investment.
The total value of 195 active aviation-related projects in the Middle East reached almost $50 billion in 2018, according to research provider BNC Network.
The various airport investments under way include Dh30 billion ($8.1 billion) in developing Al Maktoum International Airport, Dh28 billion ($7.6 billion) expansion of phase four of Dubai International Airport and Dh25 billion ($6.8 billion) for the development and expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport. In addition, Sharjah Airport is also undergoing a Dh1.5 billion ($408 million) investment in expansion of its terminal.
There are also a number of upcoming and planned airport expansion projects across Saudi Arabia, including King Abdulaziz International Airport Expansion in Jeddah and King Khalid International Airport Expansion in Riyadh.
Curtis said: “2018 was also an exciting year for new flight routes with GCC airlines alone adding 58 new flight routes – focusing on areas of consistent and substantial growth.
“With two thirds of the world’s population within an eight-hour flight from the GCC, it is an ideal base for exploring some of the world’s most interesting and previously inaccessible corners of the world. And the GCC’s airlines are making it even easier with the continuous addition of new and direct flight routes,” Curtis added.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.