Ministers and senior officials on Thursday held their fourth meeting to coordinate tourism efforts within Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, countries.
During the meeting, which took place in Muscat, participants named the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah as the ‘Gulf Tourism Capital’.
The meeting was attended by a UAE delegation led by Mohammed Khamis Al Muhairi, Advisor to the Minister of Economy for Tourism Affairs, on behalf of Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy.
Al Mansouri stated that Ras Al Khaimah’s selection as the capital of Gulf tourism highlights the UAE’s leading stature as a popular tourism destination, noting that the previous years have witnessed ongoing growth in the number of tourists visiting the country from around the world, and praising the decision of GCC tourism ministers and officials.
He added that the UAE, upon the directives of its leadership, has prioritised the tourism sector, due to its role in driving sustainable development and supporting the post-oil economy while pointing out that all emirates have increased their numbers of touristic facilities and provide advanced and innovative tourism services.
Presenting the key tourism achievements, Al Muhairi said that in 2018, the number of hotel guests visiting the UAE reached 25.6 million, an increase of 3.8 percent compared to 2017. These guests spent a total of 80.4 million hotel nights, an increase of 3 percent over 2017.
The country has 1,117 hotel establishments with an average 173.4 hotel rooms each and an average occupancy rate 73.5 percent while international visitors made up 83 percent of hotel guests, compared to 17 percent for local guests, he added.
He also said that the report of the World Tourism and Travel Council in 2019 revealed that the tourism sector made up 11.1 percent of the UAE’s GDP in 2018, amounting to AED164.7 billion. This contribution is expected to rise by three percent in 2019, and tourism provided 9.6 percent of total jobs in 2018, corresponding to around 611,500 positions. This percentage is expected to rise by 2.8 percent in 2019, he further added.
In 2018, visitor spending amounted to AED136.8 billion, or 8.6 percent of the country’s total exports. This figure is expected to increase by 4.1 percent in 2019. Total investments in the country in 2018 amounted to AED26.4 billion, or 8.1 percent of the total.