Five steps to tourism success

Governments across the GCC must undertake a multi-step journey to strengthen their tourism offerings and take advantage of the long-term opportunity the sector represents in a post-pandemic era, according to new research.

The Ideation Centre, a think tank for PwC’s Strategy & Middle East division, has said governments need to embark on a five-step journey, starting with defining their vision for tourism in the country, to develop the sector rapidly.

Their research suggests that, with the exception of Bahrain and the UAE, which attract large numbers of visitors, these countries do not receive as many tourists as they could.

Karim Abdallah, partner with Strategy & Middle East said: “This vision should build on the competitive advantages of the country, and highlight target outcomes, including the anticipated number of tourists, the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP, and job creation statistics. Saudi Vision 2030 is an excellent example of this: it clearly delineates plans to offer multiple tourism products and experiences, with a clear goal of increasing the number of domestic and international tourists to 100 million per year by 2030 and boosting tourism’s contribution to GDP from 3% in 2018 to 10% by 2030.”

A second stage is institutionalising effective tourism sector governance and ensuring that all public and private stakeholders are synchronising efforts towards the successful implementation of the tourism vision.

Thirdly, countries in the region must identify the travellers that are most likely to be attracted to their offerings, segmented by source markets and socioeconomic profiles.

Marwan Bejjani, partner with Strategy & Middle East added: “Data analytics and data sharing between tourism sector stakeholders is likely to play an increasingly important role in supporting governments in making informed decisions that allow them to tailor offerings. The UAE and Egypt have diversified offerings that attract visitors from a diverse set of countries. Knowing that there is a rise in tourists from the Far East will allow countries to take action to cater to that segment.”

A fourth objective should be to burnish the appeal of a country’s tourism products and experiences and working to ensure that a destination is ready to welcome tourists. This includes having in place accommodation and food and drink outlets, tour services and activities, transport and infrastructure, tailored to the needs of tourists.

Dima Sayess, a partner with Strategy & Middle East adds: “Countries in the GCC and Egypt are at different levels of destination readiness in many areas, which can give an indication of where efforts need to be directed. When it comes to tour services, well-established tourism destinations such as Egypt and the UAE have a large number of heritage and cultural offerings. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have the opportunity to intensify their offerings in this aspect.”

The fifth and final step is ensuring that tourists are connected to the country by conducting thorough and in-depth marketing and promotion campaigns aimed at raising the interest of travellers in particular source markets, putting in place the right distribution channels to convert interest into bookings, and securing transport connections to the destination.

Once the steps are completed, it is important that regional countries review and renew them on a regular basis.