Middle East Prepares for Influx of Indian Tourists as Outbound Market Surges
Mokshita P.
10x Industry

Middle East Prepares for Influx of Indian Tourists as Outbound Market Surges

Arabian Travel Market 2024, set to take place from May 6-9, will spotlight the Indian outbound market, predicted to reach US$143.5 billion annually by the end of the decade. The Middle East, particularly the UAE and Saudi Arabia, remains a popular destination for Indian travellers, with Dubai being the top source market. The growing middle class, rapid economic growth, and increased connectivity from tier-two cities are leading this surge.

In anticipation of the Indian outbound market reaching a US$143.5 billion annually by the end of the decade, the 31st edition of the Arabian Travel Market is set to shine a spotlight on the burgeoning Indian tourism sector. Scheduled to take place from May 6-9 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, ATM 2024 aims to delve into the dynamics propelling India's outbound travel boom.

A report by booking.com and McKinsey reveals that 70 percent of Indians traveling overseas prefer nearby destinations, with one-third opting for Middle Eastern destinations. The UAE emerges as the top regional choice, closely followed by Saudi Arabia. Notably, India stands out as Dubai's premier source market, contributing 1.9 million visitors in the first 10 months of 2023, while Saudi Arabia aims to attract 7.5 million visitors by 2030.

Before the pandemic in 2019, Indians embarked on 26.9 million overseas trips. The report predicts a substantial increase, projecting 50 million departures by 2030, showcasing the vast potential for growth in India's outbound market.

Arabian Travel Market Exhibition Director for the Middle East, Danielle Curtis, attributes the surge in outbound travel to India's expanding middle class. The report indicates that due to rapid economic growth, the number of households with annual incomes between US$10,000 and US$35,000 is expected to rise from 37 million in 2020 to a significant 177 million by 2030. Additionally, households earning over US$35,000 per annum are anticipated to increase sixfold, from two million in 2020 to 13 million by 2030.

Curtis highlights the youthfulness of India's population, with a median age of 28, leading the UNWTO to recognise India as one of the top three fastest-growing outbound markets globally. By 2030, India's total travel expenditure is predicted to reach an impressive US$410 billion, marking a remarkable 173 percent increase from US$150 billion in 2019.

The proximity of Gulf states, especially Dubai, being just a three-hour flight from Mumbai, has further fuelled the enthusiasm of Indian travellers. Increased connectivity and affordable air travel, particularly from tier-two cities, along with the presence of over 8.5 million Indian expatriates working in the GCC, are contributing factors to the anticipated growth in business travel and bleisure.

A survey by Acko Insurance indicates that the majority of Indian travellers are willing to spend up to US$7,000 on international trips, adding another layer of excitement for Middle East destinations.

ATM 2024 anticipates a record number of travel professionals representing both outbound and inbound travel to India. The event will provide ample networking opportunities and a chance to explore the Indian travel sector, including a dedicated India Summit titled 'Unlocking the True Potential of Inbound Indian Travellers.' The summit, scheduled for May 6th, will delve into the current and future opportunities within this vibrant market.

With an expected 20 percent increase in exhibitors from India, this year's ATM will showcase industry players such as TBO.com, Taj Hotels, Rezlive, and Rategain, along with new exhibitors including Verteil Technologies, Tulah Clinical Wellness, ZentrumHub, and The Paul Resorts & Hotels. Last year's high-profile Indian exhibitors, including Air India, the Goa Department of Tourism, and others, further underscore the growing significance of India in the global tourism landscape.