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‘Shopping hotels’ on the rise in Mideast

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The retail environment in the Middle East is thriving, led by strong growth in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Per capita expenditure on store-based retailing is up nearly US$3,000 thanks to high levels of discretionary income. For both resident and visitors, shopping is one of the top leisure activities in this region, this was revealed by a new research from the ‘World Travel Market Global Trends Report’.

In the region, a growing number of malls now have hotels directly located inside or connected for easy access. Leading shopping hotel players including Kempinski Mall of the Emirates Hotel; the Address Dubai Mall, which is connected to the largest mall in the region; and Al Faisaliah Hotel in Saudi Arabia.

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An additional 10 shopping malls will be under construction in the Middle East during the next 10 years. Among them, the Yas Mall on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island will boast a total of seven hotels. High demand from international travellers, expatriates and locals make the region a strong market for luxury brands.

In Africa, meanwhile, with more than 200 movies produced each year, Nigeria’s ‘Nollywood’ is helping spur tourism to film locations throughout the country. The film industry also is helping to change stereotypes by highlighting culture and hospitality.

Inbound tourism is also on the rise, with arrivals expected to record three percent compound annual growth rate from 2012 to 2016, driven primarily by inter-regional tourism from expanding African economies.

Global tourist arrivals are expected to top one billion for the year, a growth of 3.4 percent over 2011, driven by Asia/Pacific and Europe. The report also found that arrivals from Brazil, Russia, India and China will continue to boost tourism while traditional markets like Europe and America remain vulnerable to austerity measures and traveler caution.

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