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Mideast to dominate global travel scene

The Middle East hospitality industry is leading the way in responding to the emerging “new world order” in global travel and hospitality, according to a new report by Deloitte.
A combination of 150 million “new travellers” from the emerging countries of China and India and continued expansion of ME carriers present the region with a unique opportunity to be a “Game Changer” in the travel and tourism industry, said the top accounting firm in its report entitled, ‘Hospitality 2015 : Game Changers or Spectators.’
Add to these ingredients the rich cultural and religious heritage of the Middle East, a young population and substantial investment in tourism infrastructure in the GCC led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar and the stage is set for the region to emerge as preferred destination for travel & tourism globally, the report added.
The key to the Middle East achieving a “Game Changer” status will be its response to the following seven drivers – Emerging markets, Demographics, Brand, Talent, Technology, Sustainability and Crisis Management.
China and India will continue to be the key hospitality markets, the report said, adding that by 2015 these countries will have absolute year-on-year tourism growth greater than the United Kingdom, France or Japan.
The growth of these outbound markets, coupled with the route networks of ME carriers, will present the Middle East tourism industry with exceptional opportunities for growth, the report stated.
Alex Kyriakidis, global managing partner of Tourism Hospitality & Leisure at Deloitte, said: ‘In the emerging markets, the rise of the middle classes will drive significant new demand for both leisure and business hospitality.’
‘The greatest future potential in these markets will lie in developing mid-market and economy-branded products aimed at the domestic traveller and in promoting the Middle East as a cultural destination,’ he added.
In 2015 and beyond there will be two key demographic drivers of change in the industry, which will create new patterns of travel and demand in the West, and important new source markets in the East: the ageing baby boomer population, and the emerging middle classes of China and India.
Kyriakidis added: “Hospitality operators who understand the drives and needs of these growing demographics will reap the rewards and become the future leaders in the industry.”
By 2015, US boomers are forecasted to account for 60 per cent of the nation’s wealth and 40 per cent of spending.
Robert O’Hanlon, partner in charge of Tourism Hospitality and Leisure at Deloitte in the Middle East said: “US baby boomers will drive growth in hospitality in the leisure sector. The key to attracting boomers is appealing to their ‘forever young’ attitude and desire for experiential travel.’
‘The substantial investment being made in tourism infrastructure in the Middle East in experience based tourism will be key to capturing this high end market,” he added.
According to him, the middle classes of China and India will also create ripples of change far into the future as their travel patterns evolve from domestic to regional to international. India alone is forecasted to have 50 million outbound tourists by 2020.
The Deloitte report said to be successful in 2015, hospitality companies must invest in technology. The battle to drive bookings through proprietary websites will continue, but all major operators will also develop applications and websites for mobile devices to meet consumer demands, it added.
Sustainability will also become a defining issue for the industry in 2015 and beyond.  Rising populations and increasingly scarce resources will provide a challenging business environment in which sustainability will need to be embedded within all facets of the hospitality industry.
On the significance of crisis management, Robert said, ‘The key to the hospitality industry’s survival of unpredictable shocks and minimizing their impact is to establish appropriate responses, protocols and risk management programs.’
Operators also need to capitalize on new opportunities that may present themselves in challenging times, he opined.
 The continued expansion of Middle East carriers will be key enabler to stimulating outbound and inbound tourism from and to these emerging markets, the report added.

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