Middle East travel and tourism sector to create 3.6 million jobs in 10 years, WTTC says

The sector's average annual growth is expected to outpace the overall economy during the next decade

View of the Burj Khalifa and the skyline in Downtown Dubai. Reuters
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The Middle East’s travel and tourism sector is projected to create nearly 3.6 million new jobs over the next decade — an average of 360,000 jobs each year, a new report has said.

The sector will propel the regional economic recovery, with its average annual growth outpacing the overall economy for the next 10 years, World Travel and Tourism Council said in its latest economic impact report.

The travel and tourism sector’s gross domestic product is expected to grow at an average of 7.7 per cent on an annual basis between 2022 and 2032, almost three times the 2.5 per cent growth rate for the region’s overall economy. It will reach nearly $540 billion — 10.1 per cent of the total economy — by 2032, the report said.

“After a very difficult couple of years, the future is looking brighter with travel and tourism expected to create 3.6 million new jobs across the Middle East over the next decade,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC president and chief executive.

“Looking to this year and the next, the outlook is more positive with both GDP and employment set to almost reach pre-pandemic levels … the recovery of the sector in the Middle East last year was certainly slower than expected, due in part to the impact of the Omicron variant.”

The travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the economy is expected to grow more than 36 per cent to about $256bn by the end of this year, amounting to 6.5 per cent of the total GDP, the WTTC said. Employment in the sector is set to grow 8.7 per cent this year to reach more than six million jobs.

The region’s travel and tourism GDP is expected to almost reach pre-pandemic levels by next year, only 2.5 per cent below the 2019 levels, the global tourism body’s report said.

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Looking to this year and the next, the outlook is more positive with both GDP and employment set to almost reach pre-pandemic levels
Julia Simpson, WTTC president and chief executive

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the industry’s contribution to the economy was 8.4 per cent or $323.6bn in 2019. It dropped to just 4.5 per cent ($162.6bn) in 2020. Last year, its contribution to the GDP climbed 15.9 per cent year-on-year, to reach $188.5bn.

“The sector’s contribution to the economy and employment could have been higher if it weren’t for the impact of the Omicron variant, which led to the recovery faltering around the world, with many countries reinstating severe travel restrictions,” the WTTC said.

More than 62 million tourism jobs were lost in 2020, leaving only 272 million employed across the industry globally, compared with 334 million in 2019.

Those jobs could return by 2022 if global vaccine campaigns continue and travel restrictions are relaxed, the WTTC said in a report in March 2021.

Updated: May 09, 2022, 5:53 PM