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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 August 2018

GCC set to witness boost in tourism 

Alphen Capital says growth rates will be between 6 and 12 per cent

People visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. EPA
People visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. EPA

GCC tourism is looking likely to recover with boosts coming from Expo 2020 in Dubai and the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, although questions remain on country's viability for holding the sporting event.

In its recent report, Alphen Capital said the GCC hospitality market will likely grow at 7.2 per cent over the next four years.

Both the UAE and Qatar were expecting to see a rise in rates. But allegations that Qatar used a secret "black operations" propaganda campaign to undermine rival bids in violation of FIFA rules, according to The Sunday Times, might change this.

Governments in the six-bloc nation have been making significant investments into the development of tourism and hospitality infrastructure such as new airport extensions.

Large tourism events expected to take place in the region will bring steady occupancy to hotel rooms to meet the anticipated demand. GCC has a number of infrastructure and hotel projects scheduled to open through 2022 to accommodate the future tourist inflow.

In Saudi Arabia, new mega projects, such as the Makkah-Medina train, will bring in more religious tourism.

Countries in the region will also benefit from easing in visa regulations by making transit passengers exempt from paying a visa fee for short stays.

However, VAT and the Qatar dispute, where Saudi Arabia UAE and Bahrain cut relations with Doha, will prove challenges to the regions growth.

The report said the tax could impact travelers on a budget. However, creating a refund system for non-resident individuals to claim VAT back will help remedy that.

GCC countries are expected to witness an improvement in economic performance on account of recovery in oil prices leading to improved sentiment and increase in government spending.

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