Qatar to be Middle Eastís top tourism performer in 2012
Qatar is set to see the fastest growth in tourism this year, with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) forecasting 13.2 percent growth.
It said growth in the Middle East as a whole would be a more subdued three percent, with stark difference at a country level.
The WTTC said in a statement that Qatar will grow fastest at 13.2 percent while Syria will likely see another dramatic fall, projected at 20.5 percent, as the political situation worsens, increasing concerns over security.
For Syria, it represents a huge decline after the country attracted 14 percent of all international arrivals in the Middle East in 2010, second only to Saudi Arabia.
Last month, STR Global data said Qatarís tourism sector was likely to see a near-70 percent growth in hotels, the largest in the Middle East and Africa.
The Middle East/Africa hotel development pipeline for January comprised a total of 495 hotels totalling 131,981 rooms, according to STR Globalís construction pipeline report.
Among the countries in the region, Qatar reported the largest expected growth (up 69.9 percent) if all 7,340 rooms in the countryís total active pipeline open.
According to the WTTCís latest research, the tourism industryís direct contribution to the global economy should exceed $2trn in GDP and 100 million jobs this year.
This contribution to GDP would represent a growth of 2.8 percent, marginally faster than the global rate of economic growth, predicted to be 2.5 percent.
When the wider economic impacts of the industry are taken into account, travel and tourism is forecast by WTTC and its research partner Oxford Economics to contribute some $6.5trn to the global economy and generate 260 million jobs - or 1 in 12 of all jobs in the world.
According to the WTTC, South and Northeast Asia will be the fastest-growing regions in 2012 (up 6.7 percent), driven by countries such as India and China where rising incomes will generate an increase in domestic tourism spend and a sharp upturn in capital investment, as well as a recovery in Japan.
It added that North Africa was showing signs of recovery in 2012 with Morocco (8.3 percent) forecast to be the star performer as the region recovers from the civil unrest in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya last year.