Indian tourists travelling to the Gulf region is bound to increase, if the recent trend is any indication. According to the latest statistics released ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, the number of Indian tourists to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states is expected to surge 81 per cent to 9.8 million in 2024 from 5.4 million in 2018.
It is not far to seek the reasons for the growing preference of Indian tourists in various Gulf destinations. Indians are increasingly attracted by mega malls, theme parks, resorts, mega-events and attractive hotels in the Gulf states. Also, some of the GCC states have eased visa regulations for Indians in an apparent move to attract foreign tourists and thereby diversify their economies away from oil.
Leisure Attractions, Relaxed Visa Regulations
"Driving this growth is a new generation of leisure attractions in the GCC, relaxed visa regulations for Indian nationals, additional airline routes, increasing business opportunities, a renewed focus on Indian weddings and the MICE segment as well as the increasing popularity of adventure and eco-tourism in countries including the UAE and Oman," said Danielle Curtis, exhibition director ME at ATM.
"This influx of Indian visitors to the GCC shows no sign of abating, with every reason to believe India will maintain its position as a top source market as the region prepares to welcome an estimated increase of 81 per cent by 2024, providing a significant boost to the region's tourism industry as we look ahead."
The United Nation's specialised agency for tourism, UNWTO, estimated that the number of outbound Indian tourists to surge 92 per cent to reach 50 million by 2022, from 26.1 million last year. Further, Indian tourists are among the world's highest spenders while travelling abroad, with outbound travel and tourism expenditure to increase to $39.3 billion by 2024, from $21.4 billion in 2018.
The Gulf states, especially the UAE, Oman and Bahrain, are all competing each other by way of marketing campaigns and roadshows in various Indian metropolitan cities to grab a greater share of tourists from the country.
Indians visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE) alone touched one million in the first half of 2019, after crossing 2.8 million in 2018, according to the latest official statistics. India also retained its top position on UAE's list of source markets for inbound tourism.