A new UN report titled ‘Tourism Highlights 2013’ shows that tourism revenue reached US$1.09bn – 2.3% of all Middle East international tourism. The top three GCC countries in terms of tourism receipts were UAE (US$10.4bn), Saudi Arabia (US$7.43bn) and Qatar (US$2.85bn).
Oman came in at number four. Kuwait received US$435m, but data for Bahrain was unavailable in 2012. The region recorded more than US$1 billion from international tourism for the first time in 2012.
“[Techniques vary] from country to country as different methods of governance are used throughout the world, but to compile our reports, we usually gather information from tourism ministries, finance ministries and central banks. In layman’s terms, international tourism receipts is the income generated by tourism in any particular country,” explains Marcelo Rici, senior media officer at UNWTO.
The wider Middle East showed mixed results. Egypt saw a sustained rebound (+18%) after a significant decline in 2011. Dubai jumped up by 10% and continues to grow. However, Lebanon has plunged by -18% in terms of visitors year-on-year, feeling the effects of conflict in Syria.
The UNWTO estimates that Middle East tourism numbers will double by 2030. The new report shows that more than half of all inbound tourists arrive by air (52%). Road links account for 40% of visitors, while water (six per cent) and rail (two per cent) make up the rest.