The Future of Travel and Tourism in the Middle East

A vision to 2020


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This 'Pathfinder' report will be released on 1st May at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. 


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The report above highlights the findings in this first of a series of three reports from GFF supported by Reed Exhibitions.



“This study is a ground breaking project for the Middle East and will provide a truly international perspective on how travel in the region could develop and what the implications might be. Being associated with this leading work is a demonstration of our commitment to contributing to the sustainable development of travel in the region.”

Richard Mortimore

Chief Executive

Reed Travel Exhibitions


Going for Growth - Across the region, countries, states and cities are embarking on an unparalleled program of investment and development to increase capacity, improve infrastructures and grow tourist numbers and revenues. Current estimates suggest that over the next 20 years, upwards of $3 trillion is going directly into leisure and tourism and indirectly into the supporting infrastructure. Through projects announced to date, by 2020 the region will add airport capacity for 300M extra passengers, build over 200 new hotels, add 100,000 additional rooms, grow visitor numbers to 150M, and increase the size of it’s aircraft fleet by over 150% by 2025.

To explore the potential implications of such explosive growth and development, Global Futures and Foresight has launched a major program of study into the future of travel and tourism in the Middle East to 2020. The aim of the study is to identify the drivers and barriers which could sustain, accelerate or curtail the forecast boom in travel and tourism in the region. The study will identify key global, regional and local in security, political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legislative trends and consumer behaviours and potential ‘wild cards’ and discontinuous changes, and then develop scenarios highlighting their possible impact on the region’s plans.
Uncertain Future - In studying the future one thing becomes clear, that there is not one certain future that we are inexorably moving towards but many possible futures. The future that ultimately emerges will be formed by our own plans and by changes and forces in our external environment including trends, new ideas, discontinuous change and ‘wild card’ low probability, high impact events. The current plans of countries, states, cities and individual developers and operators are underpinned by a strong growth-orientated ‘preferred future’. Any analysis of history shows that the outcome at the end of any five, ten or twenty year time period rarely resembles what was forecast at the start. Hence, treating the future as a single certain outcome is a high risk strategy. The study aims to help minimise risks and surface opportunities for everyone engaged in the industry. Reed Travel Exhibitions and the Arabian Travel Market are the Platinum and launch sponsors of this study. We invite other parties who are interested in better understanding the future of the travel and tourism market in the Middle East region to join us in this exciting project.
Issues – How broad are the scenarios you have considered? How willing is your organisation to ‘discuss the undiscussable’ and think about those factors that may challenge your current growth assumptions? What if growth differs significantly from current forecasts?
In the report - We explore some of the critical challenges for the region in delivering its current travel and tourism strategies.  In the second section we explore some of the critical global trends and drivers of change which could have the greatest bearing on the sector. In the centre pages of the report, we present a timeline that outlines many of the most interesting landmark developments, targets and issues arising on the path to 2020 and beyond. In the final section we provide a short summary of some of the key plans and developments across the region and a table that enables us to compare the countries of the region at a glance.