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Dubai tops world in tourist spending, earns $29.4 billion

Dubai earned $29.4 billion in international visitor spending last year

Riyadh: Dubai has ranked number one among cities with the highest spending by international tourists, earning $ 29.4 billion this year, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC) revealed. The Emirate overtook Doha and London, where tourists spent $16.8 billion and $16.1 billion, respectively, WTTC said in its latest Cities Economic Impact report.

Sponsored by Visa, the WTTC launched its Cities Economic Impact Report (EIR) at the 22nd Global Summit in Riyadh last week. The Report shows cities remain the powerhouses of global tourism and will drive the recovery of the sector and economies worldwide. The Cities EIR analysed 82 international city destinations. They showed that before the pandemic, major cities were popular travel destinations, accounting for almost half of all international visits, both as standalone destinations and as gateways to other tourism hotspots within countries.

Tourism poised to generate millions of jobs

Qatar’s capital Doha is forecast to see the most significant increase from 2019 to 2022 in terms of international traveller spending and direct travel and tourism contribution to the city’s GDP, with an expected increase of 21 per cent.

In Europe, Warsaw is expected to witness a 14 per cent increase in 2022 versus 2019 in travel and tourism’s contribution to the city’s GDP. In the US, Orlando is projected to see a 10 per cent increase in direct Travel & Tourism contribution to the city’s GDP over that same period.

Over the next decade, the sector is on track to become a key driver of economic growth again, with faster GDP growth than other sectors, generating 126 million new jobs worldwide. By 2032, the sector will directly generate up to eight per cent of all jobs in the 82 cities analysed in the Cities Report. This is up from 6.6 per cent in 2019 and a low of 5.1 per cent in 2020.

Strong appetite for history, culture

COVID-19 had a devastating impact on travel and tourism and, in particular, major cities worldwide as countries closed their borders in response to the pandemic.

However, Julia Simpson, WTTC President and CEO, said, “Our Report clearly shows that for millions of tourists worldwide, major cities remain iconic global destinations. There’s still a strong appetite to experience the history, culture, and energy that cities offer travellers.”

She added, “Before the pandemic, cities were powerhouses for international tourists, serving as standalone destinations and as gateways to other tourist destinations within countries. This year cities are recovering worldwide, and we forecast that cities will continue to grow and thrive over the next decade.”

Throughout the pandemic, and as borders began to reopen, leisure travellers swapped major metropolises for less-populated destinations such as coastal and rural hotspots, leaving economies of international cities to battle through an incredibly tough three years.

According to the Report, ten of the 82 cities analysed are projected to exceed pre-pandemic levels in direct travel and tourism GDP contribution to the city economies this year.

Jeni Mundy, Head of Global Merchant Sales and Acquiring Visa, said, “Even after the colossal challenges the pandemic brought to the travel industry, the economic benefit of tourism to cities remains strong. Consumers’ willingness to adopt digital-first travel experiences will help pave the way for even more innovations in the future.”

2022 International Vistor spending

Highest visitor spending

1. Dubai $24.9bn

2. Doha -$16.8bn

3. London – $16.1bn

Most recovered

1. Doha – +21%

2. Orlando – +19%

3. Antalya – +15%