GCC's hotel, leisure sector growth heats up as visa policies relax

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (IHG has planned to expand the two brands in emerging CBDs. )

The GCC's hospitality and leisure construction pipeline has a total of over 2,000 projects currently underway with a combined value of $200 billion. The focus on strengthening the regional tourism market has gained momentum now that the pipeline has approximately $64 billion worth of related projects and visa policies are becoming even more relaxed. 

The hospitality and leisure markets in the UAE and Saudi Arabia constitute 74 percent of all related projects in the region. The GCC Hospitality & Recreation report by BNC Network for the Big 5 stated the growing tourism sector has driven the number of hospitality and leisure projects to rise in the GCC. 

GCC governments have highlighted their move toward economic diversification and sustainable growth by adding these hospitality and leisure projects to their pipelines and expanding the tourism sector in their countries. As a result, the rising number of hospitality and leisure projects has driven significant growth in the entire construction sector. 

Top ranking countries have already broken ground on numerous mega developments, including the Hospitality District in Dubai's Mall of the World in the UAE and Phase 1 of the Red Seas Touristic Development in Tabouk, Saudi Arabia. Oman follows behind the UAE and Saudi Arabia with the third highest value of hospitality and leisure investment thanks to the Tourism Resort project in Duqm, which is valued at $20 million. 

The hospitality and leisure projects in Dubai and Abu Dhabi total approximately 81 percent of all projects in the UAE. This has led BNC Project Intelligence to name the country the most competitive tourism sector in the GCC. As Expo 2020 approaches, the UAE has been forecasted to attract approximately 25 million visitors between October 2020 and April 2021. As part of its 2020 Tourism Strategy, the Department of Tourism and Marketing in Dubai has set a goal to attract another 20 million overnight visitors in 2020. 

According to the report, Josine Heijmans, portfolio event director, said in a statement, “The high number of hospitality and leisure projects being launched in the GCC will continue to positively drive the regional construction sector as a whole. In an effort to support mega-events as Expo 2020 and developing tourism strategies, demand will remain strong for the innovative products and sustainable building solutions all on display at The Big 5 2017.”