UAE set to receive bulk of European visitors to GCC

Arrivals from Europe to the Arabian Gulf region will increase 17 per cent over 2018 to 2020 period

Visitors are seen at the 71st floor of the Gevora Hotel, the world's tallest hotel, in Dubai, UAE February 12, 2018. REUTERS/Satish Kumar
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The UAE and Saudi Arabia continue to be the preferred GCC destinations for European visitors, as the region's two top economies are on track to welcome 81 per cent of the projected business and leisure travellers by 2020, according to researcher Colliers International.

“Historically, Europe and the GCC have enjoyed excellent travel and tourism links. Building on this, over the next three years, EU arrivals to the GCC will increase and we will see this in both the leisure and business segments," said Simon Press, senior exhibition director for Arabian Travel Market (ATM), for whom Colliers is the research partner.

The UAE is expected to receive 14.5 million visitors, Saudi Arabia 5.4 million, Oman 2.21 million, Bahrain 1.72 million and Kuwait 738,000, by 2020, the research firm said.

Arrivals from Europe to the GCC will increase 17 per cent over 2018 to 2020 period, driven by extra flights, routes, competitive fares, and the rising number of mid-market hotels throughout the region, according to the data published ahead of Arabian Travel Market 2018, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 22 to 25.

“While European tourists have previously travelled to the GCC for its luxury resorts, the growing numbers of millennial travellers, middle-class tourists and corporate travellers on a budget, are slowly changing traditional market trends, as is the growth in affordable, mid-market hotels combined with an increase in low-cost flights,” Mr Press said.


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Besides Emirates’ new route to Stansted airport in the UK, flydubai is scheduled to start flying to Krakow in Poland this month, further extending the carrier’s Eastern and Central European network, to 24 destinations, including Belgrade, Bratislava, Bucharest, Prague, Skopje, Sarajevo and Sofia.

Europe will also welcome more visitors from the UAE and the Saudi Arabia, he said.

“Travel to Europe will continue to be dominated by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which together will account for 93 per cent of GCC arrivals to the continent. Germany, Italy, the UK, Austria and Switzerland have historically been the top European destinations for GCC nationals to visit," Mr Press said.