New research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East could reach USD 246 billion this year, just 8.9 percent behind pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, the industry generated USD 270 billion for the region’s economy.
However, in 2020, when Covid-19 brought international travel to an almost complete standstill, its contribution more than halved, plummeting 51 percent, suffering a brutal loss of more than USD 138 billion.
Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, said: “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 travel and tourism. 2022 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.”
Research by WTTC reveals that if countries continue to roll out the inoculation program at pace this year, and restrictions to international travel are eased around the world, 6.8 million people could be employed in the sector by the end of 2022, just 40,000 behind pre-pandemic levels.
To reach close to pre-pandemic levels this year, the WTTC says governments around the world must continue focusing on the vaccine rollout and allowing fully vaccinated travelers 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 allow travelers to prove their status in a fast, simple and secure way.