UAE tops in Mena travel in­dus­try


The UAE ranked 28th in this year's global in­dex for travel and tourism com­pet­i­tive­ness inch­ing up two spots from the pre­vi­ous year rank­ing of 30 [among 39 coun­tries] mak­ing it the top per­former in the Mid­dle East and North Africa (Mena) re­gion.

Glob­ally, top slot was oc­cu­pied by Switzer­land, fol­lowed by Ger­many and Aus­tria, ac­cord­ing to the re­cently re­leased Travel & Tourism Com­pet­i­tive­ness Report, rank­ing 140 coun­tries ac­cord­ing to their at­trac­tive­ness and abil­ity to de­velop their travel and tourism in­dus­tries.

Is­sued by the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum, in co-op­er­a­tion with Booz & Com­pany, the bi­en­nial report stated that UAE con­tin­ues to lead the Mena re­gion thanks to rich cul­tural re­sources and a slew of in­ter­na­tional fairs and ex­hi­bi­tions. "De­spite the im­pact on nat­u­ral re­sources, the coun­try has man­aged to build a thriv­ing travel and tourism in­dus­try. It is also a world-class in­ter­na­tional hub for global air travel," Ge­orge Atalla, Part­ner with Booz & Com­pany, said in a state­ment.

This year's report was pub­lished un­der the theme "Re­duc­ing Bar­ri­ers to Eco­nomic Growth and Job Cre­ation".

Dubai alone wel­comed a record 10 mil­lion plus vis­i­tors in 2012, ac­cord­ing to the re­cent statis­tics re­leased by the De­part­ment of Com­merce and Tourism Mar­ket­ing (DTCM).

Abu Dhabi, mean­while, re­ceived 2.3 mil­lion vis­i­tors last year and tar­gets to at­tract 2.5 mil­lion vis­i­tors this year, ac­cord­ing to the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Cul­ture Author­ity (TCA Abu Dhabi).

The report fur­ther projects that the av­er­age growth of the travel and tourism sec­tor's con­tri­bu­tion to the UAE's gross domestic prod­uct (GDP) will be over 8.1 per cent an­nu­ally dur­ing the pe­riod from 2011 to 2020. And that the de­mand for jobs in the tourism sec­tor will grow by 5.7 per cent per year un­til 2020.

The UAE rank­ing was fol­lowed by Qatar (ranked 41), which saw busi­ness tourism gain sig­nif­i­cantly ow­ing to the eco­nomic boom, ac­cord­ing to An­toine Nasr, Se­nior As­so­ciate at Booz & Com­pany. "Qatar's abil­ity to of­fer tourists a safe and se­cure en­vi­ron­ment com­pounded with its role as a trans­port hub has sig­nif­i­cantly en­hanced its travel and tourism com­pet­i­tive­ness," he said. Bahrain, mean­while, fell places since the 2011

15 as­sess­ment, rank­ing fourth in the re­gion ow­ing to "se­cu­rity con­cerns", ac­cord­ing to the report. It stated that how­ever, the coun­try main­tains a num­ber of clear strengths such as an evolved trans­port in­fra­struc­ture, skilled hu­man re­sources and strong price com­petive­ness.

Le­banon, mean­while, ranked 8th in the re­gion and 69th over­all with a num­ber of cul­tural at­tributes, in­clud­ing five World Her­itage cul­tural sites and some cre­ative in­dus­tries, the report stated, adding that Egypt, ranked 10th re­gion­ally, drop­ping 10 po­si­tions in the global as­sess­ment to reach 85th over­all, as a re­sult of the con­tin­u­ing un­rest in the coun­try.

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