GCC travel & tourism sector generated $245bn in 2019

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The travel & tourism sector in the GCC last year accounted for US$245 billion of its overall GDP, equating to 8.6% according to a report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The Economic Impact Report (EIR) underscores the importance of the industry during a time where it is feeling pressure from the spread of COVID-19.

Reports from leading agencies highlighted that leisure travel in the region accounted for 83% of tourism spending, while business travel made up 17%. Domestic spend made up 37% of the total, while international visitor spending made up 63%.

Saudi Arabia and UAE both stood out in 2019. Saudi Arabia had the fastest-growing travel & tourism sector in 2019, with the sector growing by 14% to make up 9.5% of the total economy in the country. Travel & tourism supported nearly 1.5 million jobs or 11.2% of total employment in the country.

The UAE also saw a significant growth of 5.0%, contributing 11.9% to the total economy in the country and supporting 745,000 jobs, or, 11.1% of total employment. Leisure spending made up 79% of total visitor spending, and 77% was made up of international visitors.

On a global scale, the sector contributes 10.3% towards GDP and generates 330 million jobs.


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