Dubai: Total contribution of the travel & tourism sector to the UAE’s gross domestic product (GDP) will reach 8.5 per cent this year with a 4.5 per cent year-on-year rise to Dh122.6 billion, according to a leading tourism industry body.

The increase, is driven by growth in the UAE’s hotels, travel agents, airlines, restaurants as well as leisure industries directly supported by the travel and tourism sector.

Total contribution figures are the wider impacts of the industry including investment, government spending and the domestic purchase of goods.

Growth figures were released in the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) latest economic impact study of the UAE’s tourism & travel industry.

Direct contribution to GDP of the travel & tourism industry is set to climb by 4.7 per cent to Dh59.1 billion this year, according to the WTTC. In 2013, the UAE’s travel & tourism sector delivered Dh56.5 billion or four per cent of the countries GDP.

Looking ahead the direct contribution is set to increase by 3.1 per cent a year to Dh80.1 billion by 2024, maintaining a four per cent of GDP figure. Total contribution is expected to grow by 3.2 per cent to Dh167.4 billion by 2024, 8.5 per cent of GDP.

The increase comes as Dubai heads towards Expo 2020 with increasing investments being made by the private and public sector into hotels and the Expo 2020 site in Dubai World Central. Abu Dhabi is also investing in building its tourism profile, which includes the construction of the Louvre and the Guggenheim on Saadiyat Island.

In 2013, the industry is expected to have attracted Dh21billion of capital investment and is forecasted to rise by 9.7 per cent in 2014. Travel & tourism directly generated 291,500 jobs in 2013, 5.3 per cent of total employment, and is expected to grow by 5.7 per cent to 308,000 in 2014. The total employment contribution in 2013 was 496,500 jobs, 9.1 per cent of total employment, in 2013. This is forecasted to growth by 5.3 per cent to 523,000 jobs this year.

By 2024 international tourist arrivals are forecast to reach 39.9 million and to generate a expenditure of Dh105.4 billion.