The region's sports tourism industry could generate as much as US$600bn
In its latest travel trend report, UAE-based travel agency Musafir.com has shared insight into the impact of sporting events on tourism in the Gulf.
Major events such as FIFA World Cup Qatar and Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are set to give Gulf tourism a boost in the last quarter of the year, and the report estimates that sporting events could "augment the tourism and hospitality economy by up to 30%".
The report states that due to hotels in Qatar being booked to full capacity during the FIFA World Cup, hotels in the UAE could see a 40% rise in demand for accommodation with hotel occupancy in the UAE hitting100% during Q4 2022.
In the lead-up to the event, Musafir.com has seen 80% growth in advance booking between Dubai and Doha. This number is expected to increase by the end of 2022.
The report also reveals an estimated average spend of approximately US$5,000 per traveller covering hotel stay, transport, shopping and activities.
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According to the World Trade Organisation, the Middle East is becoming the world’s fastest-growing sports tourism destination, with the industry valued at an estimated US$600bn.
The Musafir report goes on to predict that the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar will see the majority of arrivals, and that the UAE will top the list as the preferred destination for travellers due to its proximity to major sporting events, as well as family-oriented activities, personal safety and societal security, room availability, varied retail experiences, adventure sports and leisure, and seamless connectivity.
Apart from attending sporting events, fans will want to explore "thrill-seeking activities as an add-on for a comprehensive travel experience encapsulating all that the country has to offer".
Meanwhile, glamping, camping and other outdoor activities will also see an increase in Q4 of 2022 due to the milder climate in winter months.
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Sachin Gadoya, CEO and co-founder of Musafir.com and Musafir Business said: "Sports events act as a catalyst and can have a tremendous impact on the economy as we will see millions of fans gather to not only watch their favourite sport but also to have an unforgettable experience during their stay in the region.
"We are anticipating an exponential growth in the tourism sector, due to the increasing number of tourists in Q4 of 2022 as arrivals and occupancy will be even more than pre-pandemic times, which is a much-needed boost for the travel and hospitality sector."
Recently, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman announced a multiple-entry tourist visa for fans attending the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to holders of ‘Hayya’ card facilitating easy entry and exit for tourists.