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Tourism in GCC a comparative analysis
- Background to the Study
The growth model of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries has delivered strong social and economic outcomes over a number of decades. The economy of these countries relies heavily on oil as the major source of fiscal and export revenues. GCC governments have helped to raise the living standards of regions through increased public sector spending and employment. However, the economic growth model of the region has various weaknesses making economic diversification important. Economic diversification in the GCC countries would lower exposure to uncertainties and volatility in the global oil market, increase productivity, create more jobs and establish a non-oil economy, which will be necessary for the future (when revenue from oil start to reduce). For this reason, this study carries out a comparative analysis of the tourism development across GCC countries, as one way of attaining economic diversification in the region.
Even though political instability brought about by the emergence of terrorist organizations (such as ISIL) and Arab Spring have led to uncertainty in the region, GCC countries have continued to develop their tourism sector as one of the major futuristic economic pillars. The hospitality industry in the region is set to reach $ 35.9 billion by the year 2018, which represent 9.5% annual growth from 2013 (in 2013 the hospitality industry in GCC region was valued at $22.8 billion). The growth of this industry is fueled by a rise is in the level of leisure travel, increased international tourists arrivals (especially from Asia). MICE tourism (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition tourism) is the leading segment of tourism in this region (Fasano & Iqbal, 2015).
Governments in the region have made various efforts to develop the tourism industry, for example; Dubai undertook Dh117.5 Al Maktoum International Airport development and Saudi Arabia funding of 11 new sports stadia. Other countries have undertaken various projects aimed at attracting more tourists. This seems……………………….