Gulf Countries are expected to receive around nine million Indian visitors by 2021, according to the latest figures from Colliers International. “Surprisingly, there are just over 65 million passport holders in India out of a population of around 1.3 billion. Still it is no surprise that the growth of the global travel industry is being led by Asian travellers and the Middle East region can expect to benefit, with Indian tourist arrivals expected to grow by CAGR of 7-8%,” Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said.
Over the five-year period from 2012 to 2016, the average percentage of Indian arrivals out of total arrivals in Kuwait was 15.4%; KSA, 10.6%; Bahrain, 17.6%; Oman, 11.2%; and UAE 9.8%.
According to ATM’s official research partner, Colliers, by 2021, this is expected to increase to: Kuwait (17.12%), KSA (11.88%), Bahrain (19.26%), UAE (10.8%) and Oman (11.9%) – helped in no small terms by a decision in October 2017, when the Sultanate approved on-arrival visas up to a period of one month for Indians holding valid US, UK, Canada, Australia or Schengen visas.
Reports from the UNWTO suggest the outbound Indian travel market will grow to 50 million by 2021, with the average spend per trip by Indian travellers also increasing – UNWTO statistics reveal India is among the top 12 source markets globally that showed double digit growth in expenditure in 2016 – visitor spend reached a total of US$23.1 billion in 2016, up 15.1% year-on-year.
India retained top spot on Dubai’s list of source markets for inbound tourism, with 1,478,000 Indian tourists arriving in the city between January and September, registering a significant 20 per cent rise over the same period in 2016. The increase can also be attributed to relaxed visa restrictions for Indian passport holders, which is currently under further consideration, including the possibility of extending on-arrival visas to Indians. In terms of Bahrain, Indians are eligible for Visit-e-Visa, which means there is no need to have a physical visa stamped in their passports prior to arrival in the country.
The Colliers research reveals Indian outbound travel growth is to be driven by the middle-income households rather than the higher-income as the former is expected to grow to nearly 20% (58 million) of the total Indian households by 2021, while the latter will represent less than 3% (6.5 million).