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Arrivals from Europe to the GCC will increase 29 per cent between 2018 and 2023. According to the latest data released ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2019,

which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 28 to May 1, this will be driven by new and direct flight routes, a growing number of millennial and middle-class travellers and competitive air fares.

According to ATM’s research partner, Colliers International, as many as 8.3mn EU residents will travel to the GCC in 2023, an additional 1.9mn travellers when compared to the 2018 arrival figures. Figures from ATM 2018, show the number of delegates arriving from Europe increased five per cent between 2017 and 2018, while the number of delegates, exhibitors and attendees interested in doing business with Europe increased by 24 per cent.

Danielle Curtis, exhibition director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said, “Historically, Europe and the GCC have enjoyed excellent travel and tourism links and this trend is set to continue over the next four years.

“The UAE and Saudi Arabia are expected to continue to be the preferred GCC destinations for European tourists, welcoming a projected 6.15mn and 1.11mn visitors respectively by 2023. Oman will follow with 720,000 visitors, while Bahrain will welcome 310,000 and Kuwait 140,000.”

Looking at the outbound market potential, GCC travel to EU countries is expected to grow by 50 per cent, with 6mn GCC residents projected to visit Europe by 2023.

The Colliers data indicates that Saudi Arabia will lead this growth with 2.98mn Saudi residents travelling to Europe in 2023, followed by 1.73mn UAE residents, 600,000 Kuwaitis, 340,000 Bahrainis and 210,000 Omanis.

While part of this growth can be attributed to the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s large expatriate populations, GCC nationals are no strangers to European destinations, its culture and history – as well as its retail and luxury hospitality offerings.

Danielle said, “Saudi Arabia is predicted to retain its position as the largest outbound travel market destination in the GCC, with an additional 1.2mn trips forecasted per year by 2023 – a 70 per cent growth on the 2018 trips. Driving this growth will be the rising spending power of both millennials and females in the kingdom.”

According to the Colliers research, the UK, France, Switzerland and Sweden will be the top European destinations for GCC nationals to visit, with the UK expected to account for 890,000 trips by 2023.

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