Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/28/2014 -- This report examines the significant long-term potential offered by the UAE's tourism industry, which has been boosted by the news in November 2013 that Dubai has been chosen to host Expo 2020. That said, we also highlight the potential downward pressure that regional uncertainty could have on arrival numbers as the political landscape changes. In recent years, ongoing political instability across the Middle East and North Africa has greatly benefited destinations that are considered 'safe havens' for both leisure travellers and investors, and the UAE is included in this group.
In mid-2013, BMI expanded its data set for the UAE tourism industry. Previously, our data only covered Dubai, but our new data sets now include information for Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah. This will allow us to generate more comprehensive forecasts for the tourism industry.
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BMI has left its key tourism forecast indicators unchanged this quarter. As such, we continue to anticipate strong growth in arrivals over the coming period. For 2014, we maintain our view that there will be 8.3% growth in arrivals from all regions, with tourism receipts set to rise by around 9.4% in US dollar terms. Over the remainder of our forecast period to 2017, we forecast a further 23.5% increase in arrivals, to reach a total of 18.91mn across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah. On the tourism receipts front, we target additional growth, in the order of 9% per annum, to reach some US$14bn by 2017.
Looking at inbound tourism flows to UAE by region, the Middle East looks set to remain the largest single source market, although its share of total arrivals will fall slightly, from 33.1% in 2014 to 32.2% by 2017. Taking a greater market share over our forecast period is Asia Pacific, with arrivals set to rise from 3.1mn in 2014 to 4.0mn in 2017. This reflects the growing wealth of Asia, coupled with increased business travel and significant numbers of expatriate workers coming to UAE from nations such as India and Pakistan. China also is expected to prove an increasingly important source market for inbound tourism.
The hospitality sector looks set to grow in tandem with tourist arrivals. BMI believes that an extra 150 hotels and accommodation establishments will be built across the UAE over the 2013-2017 period. This will equate to some 39,080 extra rooms for the overall national supply, reflecting the large size of many of the new hotels currently under construction across the emirates. Occupancy rates will also remain strong, remaining above the 70% mark across our forecast period to 2017 and underlining the strong demand for accommodation within UAE at the present time
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