Growing tourism in the MENA region
MENA tourism could grow to a USD 350 bn industry by 2027, mainly driven by the leisure and religious tourism sectors, according to MENA Research Partners (MPR). In 2017 alone, leisure tourism generated nearly USD 115 bn to the region, with Dubai being ranked as the sixth most visited city in the world. The region also has high demand for religious tourism, with mns of pilgrims flocking to Saudi Arabia each year for Hajj and Umrah. The growing numbers can also be attributed to the rise of online booking for tickets and tours.
The Middle East is also becoming the fastest growing market for medical and business tourism. “Increasing healthcare costs in Western countries are the primary drivers of this growth,” says Hobeika, adding that the UAE attracts most medical tourism due to its large network of international hospitals. Egypt and Lebanon are also on the rise as destinations for medical tourism destinations due to advanced medical markets and affordable pricing.
The GCC has been the biggest beneficiary of the “terror slump”. “The geopolitical situation in the Middle East since 2012 has reshaped the flow of the industry. Tourism within the MENA region, especially from Egypt and Lebanon, is now redirected toward UAE, Oman and Jordan,” says MPR CEO Anthony Hobeika. Despite the political turmoil, Hobeika expects the industry to have an “impressive rebound.