In a bid to diversify its income sources, from being solely oil-reliant, the Gulf Countries cooperation (GCC) will become the newest and most exciting travel destination. And there’s a fair chance, with a $40 billion budget, that tourists will have good reason to visit the Gulf.

Picture this. The biggest amusement park in the world, that is bigger than Monaco. The biggest airport in the world. Add another 650 new airplanes to the shopping list for good measure.

With an estimate 1.6 billion tourists by 2020, growing markets in Nigeria, India and Brazil, and 100,000,000 outbound tourists coming from China alone, the GCC is planning to attract a substantial number of travelers.

Why tourism?

The Gulf countries do not want to be dependent mainly on oil. The target is to reach 9% GDP dependence by 2020 from currently 40% and tourism has been earmarked as a strategic means to achieve this goal.

Tight deadline, but progress on track

Planning is well underway with airlines like Ethihad Airways with a strong reputation for customer service, having received over 30 awards since its inauguration in 2003. The GCC airlines ordered a total of 650 new airplanes from Airbus and Boeing. It is projected that Emirates will fly 10% of all long haul flights in the near future. Dubai airport is the busiest International airport attracting more than 80 million international passengers. Further construction of the new airport, Jebel Ali, is planned to double the number of passengers in Dubai by 2025.

ESP (emotional selling proposition) – Turning sand to emotion

The emergence of world class man-made Islands and waterfronts, the Gulf countries are transforming the Gulf waters into stunning touristic destinations, like The Pearl in Doha or the Failalka Islands in Kuwait, creating a valuable infrastructure for hotels and real estate.

While Gulf Countries may be lacking in world heritage sites they are making the Gulf Region the new world stage, a bold strategy that will transform of the Gulf as a tourism destination, long-term.  From featuring the most elite soccer matches, Formula 1 drivers and Expo 2020, a Festival of human ingenuity, (attracting 25 million visitors), to developing the biggest amusement park in the world, this strategy aims to prolong the average stay of tourists and make the Gulf the stopover destination of choice for long-haul passengers.

The GCC is turning sand into the most exciting high-end tourist destination combining world-leading infrastructure with emotional appeal.

Mark your calendars to visit Abu Dhabi at the Expo 2020!

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