GCC to welcome 9.8 million Indian visitors by 2024

File Photo: Incredible India pavillion Arabian Travel Market 2019

An estimated 9.8 million Indian visitors are expected to visit the GCC by 2024, a recent study by Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2020 revealed. The data projects an 81 percent increase from 5.4 million in 2018, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10%.

In 2018, the UAE alone welcomed 2.89 million Indian tourists. This figure is expected to touch 5.29 million by 2024, increasing at a CAGR of 11%, according to ATM’s official research partner, Colliers International.

Indian tourists accounted for approximately 26.1 million of total outbound trips made last year, with reports from the UN’s World Tourism Organization estimating the figure will increase by 92 percent to reach more than 50 million by 2022.

Indian tourists are among the world’s highest spenders while travelling abroad, with outbound travel and tourism expenditure to increase from US $21.4 billion in 2018 to US $39.3 billion by 2024.

Read: India plans to open 100 airports by 2024

On average, Indian travellers spent approximately US $1,100 per trip made to the GCC in 2018, according to the latest data from Euromonitor International, with business and experience-seeking tourists likely to spend at least 15 percent more per trip.

India also retained its top spot on Dubai’s list of source markets for inbound tourism, with almost 1 million Indian tourists arriving in the emirate during the first half of 2019.

As destinations throughout the Middle East prepare to showcase their latest offering at ATM 2020, currently underway at Dubai World Trade Centre, Colliers International predicts more than 20% of India’s total outbound market will travel to the GCC by 2024 – with business, place of work and leisure underpinning this demand.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “This influx of Indian visitors to the GCC shows no sign of abating, with every reason to believe India will maintain its position as a top source market as the region prepares to welcome an estimated increase of 81% by 2024, providing a significant boost to the region’s tourism industry as we look ahead.”

Read: India’s SpiceJet to open first international hub in UAE, launch new airline

“This projected growth is being supported by a number of key stakeholders in the region, from immigration initiatives and megaevents, to hotels, F&B venues, resorts, theme parks and malls – all of which appeal to Indian travellers.

“ATM is witnessing this growth firsthand, in 2019, 10% of the total buyers at the show were from India. In terms of potential, we are only scratching the surface as the Indian middle class represents just 3% or 40 million of the total Indian population and average real wages set to quadruple between 2013 and 2030,” he added.

Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait are all expected to witness an increase of 10 percent  respectively between 2018 and 2024.

“Driving this growth is a new generation of leisure attractions in the GCC, relaxed visa regulations for Indian nationals, additional airline routes, increasing business opportunities, a renewed focus on Indian weddings and the MICE segment as well as the increasing popularity of adventure and eco-tourism in countries including the UAE and Oman,” said Curtis.

Curtis added: “As GCC travel and tourism companies and destinations look to attract a larger share of the Indian market, ATM 2020 will introduce the India Market Forum as part of the show’s new forum & networking series. The session will outline what destinations are doing to attract visitors from this key market while also providing an informal networking event for buyers from India and exhibitors.”

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