Estimated figures are just 8.9% behind pre-pandemic levels
New research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East could reach US$246 billion this year, just 8.9% behind pre-pandemic levels.
In 2019, before the pandemic struck, the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East was worth US$270 billion to the region’s economy.
When Covid-19 brought international travel to an almost complete standstill in 2020, the travel and tourism sector contribution more than halved, plummeting 51.1%, equating to a loss of more than US$138 billion.
Latest research from WTTC shows that as the Middle East continues to recover from the pandemic, with major markets reopening borders and easing travel restrictions, the sector’s contribution to employment could almost reach pre-pandemic levels this year.
Research by WTTC reveals that if countries continue to roll out the inoculation programme at pace this year, and restrictions to international travel are eased around the world, approximately 6.8 million people could be employed in the travel and tourism sector by the end of 2022, just 40,000 behind pre-pandemic levels.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic caused significant losses to the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, but we now have reason for real optimism. Since the start of the pandemic, governments across the Middle East have shown real commitment to travel and tourism. Saudi Arabia in particular, has shown strong leadership throughout the crisis and is making a major investment in its travel and tourism sector.
“This year is poised for a strong recovery if governments across the region continue to open up their borders and remove restrictions to travel, which will have a massive positive effect on both the economy, the society and jobs.”
To reach close to pre-pandemic levels this year, WTTC says governments around the world must continue focusing on the vaccine rollout and allowing fully vaccinated travellers to move freely.
The global tourism body also urges governments in the Middle East and around the world, to ditch the patchwork of restrictions and enable international travel using digital solutions that allows travellers to prove their status in a fast, simple and secure way.