Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/07/2012 -- The UAE Tourism Report considers the recent performance of the tourism sector and assesses its longterm prospects. For the UAE as a whole, the tourism sector had another good year in 2011, although annual growth in foreign tourists slowed slightly to an estimated 9%. The already burgeoning tourism sector appears to have benefited from the Arab Spring, with tourists attracted away from other locations in the region. Given the ongoing instability, there is potential for the industry to benefit further in this regard.
BMI anticipates a slowdown in the sector over the short term, with growth in arrivals forecast at around 6% in 2012, which is unchanged this quarter. This is partly driven by extremely weak economic conditions in the eurozone (Europe is the major source region for arrivals). Growth in visitors from Europe to Dubai has been weak in recent years. Continuing favourable opportunities exist for the UAE to exploit regional tourism growth, such as from Saudi Arabia. The tourism industry has also become a notable bright spot for the construction sector.
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Final figures for 2011 show Dubai welcomed nearly 9.1mn visitors (including UAE residents), an annual increase of 9.7%, though growth slowed during the course of the year. Excluding UAE residents, the increase was slightly lower at 9.4%. Figures for Q112 show Dubai recorded a healthy 9% year-on-year (y-o-y) increase in arrivals. Over the quarter, in Sharjah the number of visitors increased by a solid 11%.
In the hospitality sector, there was a robust increase of over 23% in the number of guest nights at Dubai hotels and hotel apartments in 2011, reaching over 32.8mn. The occupancy levels of hotels increased slightly compared with the previous year, to 74%, with the same occupancy rate recorded for hotel apartments. Tourists from Europe accounted for over 27% of total arrivals in hotels in 2011, but increased by only 0.3% compared with 2010 (an extra 6,700 tourists). The Q112 data show guest nights increased by 22% y-o-y. In Sharjah, figures for Q112 show a good 13% increase in hotel and hotel apartment room nights. Hotel occupancy rates in the emirate stood at 78%, compared with 75% in Q111.
Over the last quarter, BMI has revised the following forecasts and views:
- BMI's eurozone real GDP growth projections have been lowered slightly for 2012 to -0.6% from -0.5%, rising to only 1.0% growth (down from 1.2% previously) in 2013.
- BMI's revised projections for real GDP growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which are particularly positive for UAE tourism, are 4.8% and 4.1% in 2012 and 2013 respectively (from 4.4% and 4.5% previously), after an estimated 3.2% in 2011.
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