Tourists and shoppers at Dubai Mall Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s travel and tourism sector is poised to add 23,600 new positions this year, bringing the total workforce to nearly 833,000, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) announced Thursday.

The WTTC, in its UAE 2024 Economic Impact report, said last year that jobs supported by travel and tourism grew by 41,000 to reach more than 809,000, representing one in nine jobs in the country.

“Although the jobs lost during the pandemic were fully recovered in 2022, today’s announcement shows sector jobs have increased 11 per cent since the 2019 high point,” said WTTC’s President and CEO, Julia Simpson.

“In 10 years, there will be about a million jobs in the travel and tourism sector, and it will likely be worth Dh275 billion. These include jobs in the hotel and hospitality sector as well as those in aviation, travel agents, online travel agents, and more,” she explained.

Moreover, WTTC, a global tourism body, forecasts that the sector will continue to grow in 2024, with a GDP of over Dh236 billion.

International visitor spending is projected to grow by nearly 10 percent to reach Dh192 billion, and domestic visitor spending is forecast to increase by 4.3 percent to reach almost Dh58 billion.

Record-breaking year of travel and tourism

WTTC’s report has revealed a record-breaking year for the sector in the UAE, with new records achieved across key metrics, including the sector’s GDP contribution, jobs, and visitor spending.

Simpson said the sector is now soaring past all previous records. Last year, it grew by more than a quarter (26 percent) to contribute a record-breaking Dh 220 billion to the UAE’s GDP, representing 11.7 percent of the entire economy.

She explained, “This exceeded the previous record set in 2019 by almost 15 percent and underscores the sector’s pivotal role in the nation’s economic framework.”

Visitor spending

According to the WTTC, domestic visitor spending fully recovered in 2022; it continued to grow last year to reach more than Dh55.5 billion, almost 40 per cent higher than in 2019.

Moreover, international visitor spending surged by almost 40 per cent in 2023 to reach over Dh175 billion, 12 per cent above 2019 levels.

Simpson said, “The UAE’s travel and tourism sector has not only recovered; it soared to new heights. The remarkable growth in employment and visitor spending is a testament to the UAE’s strategic vision and commitment to enhancing the sector.”