With an arrival of more than 10 million tourists every year, tourism has emerged as a promising business sector in the UAE. The country is flourishing with three national airlines and a huge number of tourism organizations such as travel agencies, tour operators, ground operators, hotels, and destination tourism authorities. Capitalizing on the strengths and opportunities, the country presents an ideal tourism model to rest of the world. Its strategic location, an optimum blend of natural attractions (sun, sand, sea) with those of man-made such as palm islands, sky scrapers, shopping festivals, well established infrastructure and availability of a range of accommodation, make UAE a perfect destination for a variety of tourists. All this and a huge support and investments by government to diversify from oil sector have given a major thrust to tourism development and promotion. Though the last few years cast a shadow on the UAE economy as well, yet tourism industry would be a thriving business in the times to come.
Subsequently, the tourism statistics in UAE are quite encouraging. According to WTTC (World Tourism and Travel Council), the direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP in 2015 was AED64.9bn (4.2% of GDP). This is forecast to rise by 4.2% to AED67.6bn in 2016.
The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment (including wider effects from investment, the supply chain and induced income impacts) was 557,000 jobs in 2015 (9.6% of total employment). This is forecast to rise by 3.8% in 2016 to 578,000 jobs (9.8% of total employment). By 2026, Travel & Tourism is forecast to support 850,000 jobs (12.4% of total employment), an increase of 3.9% pa over the period.
The encouraging statistics supported by unique characteristics of the UAE such as political stability, low barriers to enter the market, a well-managed banking system and other supporting services and an excellent infrastructure, establishes a solid platform for the investors looking for a business opportunity. What makes UAE business support different from that of others is the clarity in their procedure, rules and regulations.
However, at the same time the tourism sector in the country is starving for suitable man power to work at all levels ranging from the top management decision makers to bottom level operational staff in various tourism and hospitality related organizations. As in many other business sectors in UAE, most of the human resource is being outsourced for tourism and hospitality. While there is nothing wrong in that but one should not forget the importance of training the newly recruited staff about the new markets, and more importantly about the country itself. Many medium and big size organizations in tourism do have separate Human Resources department taking care of training requirements whereas the small size enterprises might find it challenging to spare their staff for such activities. Need of the hour is to understand tourism industry's functioning at a larger level and fuel a sustainable growth which is socially, culturally and environmentally viable. This is possible only when the people running this sector are equipped with holistic knowledge of tourism sector and take decisions accordingly. At the same time the educational institutes and varsities should also respond innovatively and effectively to the training and education needs of this ever growing sector. Although a whole range of tourism related courses, job oriented professional diplomas and certifications are being offered in the marketplace, their credibility remains questionable. Tourism sector aspirants should carefully analyze their requirement, affordability, availability and match it with the training program and the institute's credibility.