DestinationsATM puts the spotlight on sports tourism

Big sports events drive UAE visitor growth

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Sport tourism and the regional leisure industry have become increasingly important drivers for international arrivals to the GCC over recent years. Sport generates 25% of all tourism receipts globally, according to data from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

Sports tourism will be in focus at this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM), held from April 24-27, as the GCC competes to capture a greater share of the US$600 billion global industry. 

Sport tourism and the regional leisure industry have become increasingly important drivers for international arrivals to the GCC over recent years. Sport generates 25% of all tourism receipts globally, according to data from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). 

Many countries throughout the region host numerous sporting events such as grands prix, international golf tournaments, swimming, horse racing, sailing, tennis and cricket, with the UAE and Qatar leading the way. 

In the UAE, the additional visitor numbers generated by major sporting events such as the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Dubai World Cup, will contribute towards achieving the country’s plans to attract 20 million visitors to Dubai by 2020 and 7.5 million to Abu Dhabi under its 2030 plans. 

Speaking ahead of this year’s ATM, Simon Press, senior exhibition director, said, “The GCC boasts the very best in sporting facilities and first class accommodation with excellent air links to major cities on every continent, encouraging international and regional competitors, officials and fans to participate.

“It’s clear that sport is fast becoming a key driver for regional tourism authorities and destinations alike.” 

Dubai’s annual events calendar includes the McLaren Cup Polo, Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Dubai Duty Free Tennis, ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi, Dubai World Cup, Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, DP World Tour Championships and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 

In Dubai, total annual sports-related expenditure was valued at around US$1.7 billion in 2014, according to the recent ‘Economic Impact of Sport in Dubai’ study by Deloitte. 

In Qatar the growth of the travel market will peak when the Gulf state hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup.


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