DUBAI

The Middle East Is Expected To Become A Tourist Hotspot By 2030

The MENA region is anticipated to receive 195 million tourists within the next 13 years

DUBAI
Buildings in Dubai. — Getty Images
Mar 18, 2017 at 12:55 PM ET

Despite many countries being marred by political conflict and violence, the Middle East and North Africa region is expected to become a popular tourist destination within the next 13 years. The region, often referred to by its acronym MENA, is anticipated to receive 195 million tourists by 2030 — a rate higher than the world average — according to figures released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization. As such, there will also be a need for 20 to 50 million to new jobs in the region over the next 10 years.

In April, the UNWTO will partner with the Arab Travel Market, a global event for the Middle East travel industry, to host a forum on tourism in Dubai. Twenty tourism ministers, along with several industry leaders from the MENA region, will discuss how tourism can fuel economic growth, with specific focuses on entrepreneurship, job creation, infrastructure, and GDP growth.

“Tourism is an increasingly important sector to support the economic diversification of the region,” UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said in a statement released Thursday.

The UNWTO’s projection of 195 million MENA-bound tourists is especially noteworthy considering the figures recorded in recent years. In 2010, 60 million tourists visited the Middle East, according to a 2015 UNWTO report, but those numbers dropped after Arab Spring protests enveloped the region the following year. By 2014, however, the region was “showing signs of recovery after three difficult years,” when the number of tourists rose to 51 million.Saudi Arabia and Qatar were among the two countries that saw the highest increase of international tourists that year.

“The Middle East has experienced huge changes since the UNWTO Ministers Forum was last held at ATM back in 2015,” Simon Press, the senior exhibition director of ATM said in a statement. “This year will reflect the pace and level of that development.”