Insights on Travel and Tourism Sector in UAE

Insights on Travel and Tourism Sector in UAE


The United Arab Emirates has emerged as one of the premier tourism and leisure destinations in the world. Over the past ten years, the tourism sector has rapidly grown and enhanced its growth, becoming an important component of the UAE’s economic growth strategy. The sector’s growth is contributed by drivers like the growth of airlines, the strategic location of the country, and UAE’s world-class transportation infrastructure. State-owned airlines like Emirates and Etihad have emerged as the best in class international passenger airlines in the world.

The Expo 2021 is an event that expects to drive the growth of the tourism sector in the UAE. Expo 2021 is only one of many factors that expect to expand tourism in the country in the coming years. Despite the growth of business in the UAE, it is also increasingly becoming a hub for sports, culture, and entertainment. The Tourism and Travel sector in UAE generated directly over 317500 jobs in 2017. It contributed to 5.4% of the total employment in the country and expects to grow at 2.4% per annum. The industry indirectly generated over 617500 jobs in 2017 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2% to create over 770000 jobs by 2027.


The UAE consists of a federation of 7 Emirates which spreads across 84000 square kilometres of land area. The seven emirates are Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, Umm Al Qaiwan, and Ajman. Dubai is considered the heart of the UAE’s tourism industry. Dubai had more than 15.8 million visitors and tourists in 2017. This Emirate has over 700 hotels with more than 111200 rooms in 2019, an increase of 6% compared to the previous year. Dubai has also recorded the highest hotel occupancy rate in 2017 in the entire MENA region. The Hospitality and tourism industry in Abu Dhabi has also experienced rapid growth in recent years. Abu Dhabi had over 3.7 million tourists and visitors from January to September 2018. The Emirate has over 200 hotels with over 40000 rooms. The northern emirates including Sharjah have witnessed a growth in the number of tourists’ arrivals. Sharjah welcomed over 860000 guests in the first half of 2017. Fujairah had 21 hotels and more than 760000 visitors back in 2016. Ras Al Khaimah had a growth rate of 11% in the number of international guests in 2017. The Emirate expects to welcome 3 million visitors by 2025.

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The investment in the travel and tourism sector of UAE was approximately AED26 billion in 2017 and expected to grow at 11% per annum to reach an investment of AED75 billion in 2027 contributing to 11.2% of the total investments made in UAE. The government collective investment includes the local, national, and regional government spending expects to reach close AED10 billion by 2027.

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The domestic expenditure on travel and tourism includes the government’s spending was AED39 billion in 2017. The investment expects to reach AED56 billion in 2027. The government’s spending includes spending on travel and tourism services directly linked to the tourists and visitors such as the development of cultural services.

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The sector directly generated revenue of around AED69 billion in 2017 and expects to grow at 5% per annum to generate a revenue of AED112 billion in 2027 which would be 5.4% of the total GDP contribution in 2027.

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The total contribution by the sector to UAE’s GDP has reached close to AED163 billion in 2017. The contribution to GDP expects to grow at 4.9% per annum to reach AED264 billion by 2027, close to 12% of the total contribution to GDP in 2027.

The different components of travel & tourism in the regional perspective are:

  • Leisure & Business spending: Leisure spending expects to reach AED191 billion in 2027 compared to AED119 billion in 2017. Business spending expects to reach AED49 billion in 2027 compared to AED33 billion in 2017.
  • Foreign visitors & Domestic spending: foreign visitors spending expects to reach AED184 billion in 2027 compared to AED113 billion in 2017. Domestic spending expects to reach AED 56 billion in 2027 compared to AED39 billion in 2017.


Sustainable tourism development in the UAE

The culture & tourism department in Abu Dhabi is working on sustainable development in tourism. This includes conducting environment-related conferences and workshops, Implementing green tourism, and developing a report on sustainability

Dubai Tourism Strategy 2020

The strategy was launched in 2013 working on key objectives to attract over 20 million tourists per year by the end of 2020. The key objectives are:

  • Maintaining the share of the market
  • Increasing the number of recurring visits
  • Improve the share in the market with strong growth potential.

Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021

The initiative aims to increase tourist visits by 10 million in 2021. The strategic pillars are:

  • Providing distinct packages and offers, making Sharjah an ideal family tourism hub
  • Developing innovative solutions to improve tourists’ experience.
  • Making Abu Dhabi a cultural hub by promoting heritage and cultural elements among the tourists

Ajman strategic plan for tourism 2021

The initiative aims to develop sustainable tourism in the Emirate and becoming the destination of choice for tourists through continuous innovations. It aims at:

  • Improving effectiveness in operations
  • Workforce empowerment
  • Providing value-added services and improves customer experience

The next decade will set the direction for UAE’s economic diversification and boosting the travel and tourism sector is one of the key aspects of it. The Royal Alliance Group is a team of widely experienced business consultants in UAE providing solutions to business aspirants seeking opportunities to start a company in the UAE. Contact us +971 52 384 442 or write to: to know how we can support you.

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