DUBAI: The number of Indian visitors travelling to the GCC over the coming five years will need to book an extra 10.8 million hotel room nights, according to data published ahead of the Arabian Travel Market, ATM 2019, which takes place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 28 April to 1 May.

The latest research, published by Colliers International, predicts some nine million Indians will travel to the GCC by 2022 — 37 per cent of India’s total outbound market — with business, place of work and leisure underpinning this demand.

Indian outbound tourists will account for 22.5 million worldwide tourists in 2018, with reports from the UNWTO estimating this figure will increase by 122 per cent, to reach over 50 million by 2022.

Adding to this study, Indian tourists are among the world’s highest spenders per visit abroad, with visitor spending expected to increase from $23 billion in 2018 to $45 billion by 2022.

Regarding Indian tourism, Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said, “Despite recent weak rupee exchange rates, which have seen the rupee lose around 14 per cent of its value against the US dollar over the last 12 months, the Indian outbound market has continued to grow at an average annual growth rate of 10-12 per cent over the last seven years.”

“The GCC has benefited from this trend with Indian travellers’ willingness and ability to spend on outbound travel, supported by the country’s pace-setting seven per cent GDP growth and a new generation of leisure attractions in the GCC, as well as increased business opportunities and relaxed visa regulations for Indian nationals,” he explained.

In 2017, the UAE welcomed 2.3 million Indian tourists, accounting for 13 per cent of the country’s annual visitors, with this figure expected to increase at an annual rate of seven per cent through 2022.

Relaxed visa restrictions and the introduction of a free two-day transit visa have contributed to this growth.

According to ATM’s official research partner, Colliers International, Saudi Arabia will also experience a comparative growth of seven per cent — while the remaining GCC countries, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain, will see an annual increase of six per cent between 2018 and 2022.