New transit visas and tourism packages to drive stopovers
More than 63% of the 89 million passengers who passed through DXB in 2018 were in transit with just 8% of these passengers leaving the airport to explore the emirate.
Dubai is targeting 20 million annual visitors by 2020, plus five million more between October 2020 and April 2021 for Expo 2020 - 70% of which will come from outside the UAE.
Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Last year, the UAE introduced a new transit visa allowing all transit passengers an exemption from entry fees for 48 hours with the option to extend up to 96 hours for AED 50.
“This visa is not only good for the country’s tourism sector but for the local economy as a whole, enticing passengers to view their transit not as an unwanted delay in their travels – but as a good opportunity to add value to their trip and experience everything the UAE has to offer.”
According to IATA, the Middle East is forecast to see an extra 290 million air passengers on routes to, from and within the region by 2037, with the total market size increasing to 501 million passengers during the same period.
Adding to this, figures from ATM 2018 show the number of delegates interested in buying airline products and services increased 13% between 2017 and 2018.
Said Curtis: “This projected growth underscores Dubai, and of course the Middle East, as the ideal location to bring together professionals from the aviation and tourism industry for our inaugural CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa forum.
“The Forum will be co-located alongside ATM 2019 – taking place on the last two days of the show,”
The success of the aviation industry in the sky is matched in the GCC and wider MENA region by the continued huge infrastructure investment.
The total value of 195 active aviation-related projects in the Middle East reached almost $50 billion in 2018, according to research provider BNC Network.
The various airport investments under way include AED30 billion in developing Al Maktoum International Airport.
AED28 billion expansion of phase four of Dubai International Airport and AED 25 billion for the development and expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport.
In addition, Sharjah Airport is also undergoing a AED1.5 billion investment in expansion of its terminal.
There are also a number of upcoming and planned airport expansion projects across Saudi Arabia, including King Abdulaziz International Airport Expansion in Jeddah and King Khalid International Airport Expansion in Riyadh.
Curtis said: “2018 was also an exciting year for new flight routes with GCC airlines alone adding 58 new flight routes – focusing on areas of consistent and substantial growth.
“With two thirds of the world’s population within an eight-hour flight from the GCC, it is an ideal base for exploring some of the world’s most interesting and previously inaccessible corners of the world.
“And the GCC’s airlines are making it even easier with the continuous addition of new and direct flight routes.”
Arabian Travel Week will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 27 April – 1 May 2019.