Chinese arrivals to the GCC will increase 21% by 2021, rising to 2.5 million visitors annually, according to data released ahead of Arabian Travel Market 2018.
Published by Colliers International, ahead of the event which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from April 22 -25, the data predicts Saudi Arabia will experience the highest proportionate increase in arrivals from China, up 35% on 2016 figures. The UAE will follow at 20%, with Oman at 12% and Bahrain and Kuwait at 7%.
Simon Press, senior exhibition director, ATM, said: “The outbound Chinese market represents a vast, untapped pool of affluent and adventurous travellers and the GCC has been a destination of choice for years. Owing to its many business opportunities and a new generation of leisure attractions, figures show the GCC is poised to further capitalise on these trends over the coming years as millions of Chinese make their first international trip.
“Over the years, sentiment at ATM has reflected the growth in Chinese tourists to the GCC and today we have seen more businesses than ever before eager to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the Chinese market.”
The Colliers data follows four years of steady growth in Chinese arrivals to the GCC, spurred by the business, leisure and religious tourism sectors. Chinese travellers today seek unexplored cities and cultures, with GCC governments courting them through roadshows, exhibitions and cultural exchanges. Further supporting this drive, over recent years, regional brands including airlines, hotels and tourism bodies have opened representative offices across China.
Every year, almost 15,000 Chinese Muslims visit the two Holy Cities, and that number will increase as China’s Muslim population grows to account for 2.1% of the total population by 2030. Strengthening these ties, in 2017 Saudi Arabia loaned Arab artefacts from the pre-historic, pre-Islamic and Islamic periods to Chinese museums, further enhancing Chinese awareness of Arab culture.
Press added: “Thanks to the work of the GCC’s tourism bodies and stakeholders, cultural attractions and new developments are already generating interest from China. As a result, the GCC’s tourism and hospitality industries are uniquely poised to capitalise on emerging trends and secure a greater share of this fascinating market.”