Middle East and Asia Pacific to handle 58% of global air passengers by 2040: ACI

RIYADH: Global air passenger demand is likely to double over the next 20 years, with Asia-Pacific and the Middle East accounting for 58 percent of the volume, according to a report by Airports Council International.

Global passenger numbers are expected to rise from 9.2 billion in 2019 to around 19 billion in 2040 according to the Airport Industry Outlook released by ACI Asia Pacific, a quarterly assessment of airport performance.

Of this size, airports in the Middle East are expected to handle 1.1 billion passengers by 2040 – a significant increase of nearly 300 percent from the total traffic of 505 million passengers in 2019.

The region must prepare itself for the incoming influx, said Stefano Baronsi, ACI’s managing director for Asia and the Pacific: “The continued improvement in passenger volumes in the region is a positive indication of the industry’s sustainable recovery after protracted efforts to rebuild passenger confidence in air travel.” .

He said restoring international connectivity will take longer and will depend in part on China’s decision to reconnect the world. “Macroeconomic headwinds, which are less severe in Asia than in other western regions, should not impede the growth process, provided that free travel without restrictions continues to be maintained.”

ACI’s Director General insisted that “all stakeholders involved in the aviation ecosystem must prepare for the surge in traffic.”

The Middle East is an ideal hub for travel – planes flying from the geographic crossroads can reach nearly all of Asia, Africa and Europe in eight hours.

Tourism is one of the pillars of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, to contribute to diversifying the base of the national economy, attracting investments, increasing sources of income and providing job opportunities for citizens, as the sector is witnessing rapid growth as a result of plans to strengthen the tourism sector.

Last month, a report by the World Tourism Organization listed Saudi Arabia at the top of a group of 20 countries ranking international tourist flows in the first seven months of 2022.

The report, released during the G20 tourism ministers’ meeting held in Bali, Indonesia, did not clarify the exact number of travelers who visited the kingdom, but claimed that the sector witnessed a growth rate of 121 percent in the first half of 2022.

During the event, Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khatib said the increase in tourist flow is in line with the kingdom’s economic diversification policies and aims to increase tourism’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product, as outlined in Vision 2030, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Al-Khatib described Saudi Arabia as one of the fastest growing tourism markets, and said that the tourism sector in the Kingdom is accelerating at a rate of 14 percent compared to the period before the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, 450,000 tourist visas were issued, since the Kingdom’s Tourism Authority launched the tourist visa program in 2019, by targeting 49 countries in the initial stage, and facilitating access to tourist visas electronically or through entry points into the Kingdom. within specific regulatory controls.

Earlier in June, Al-Khatib said Saudi Arabia had allocated $100 million to provide training for 100,000 people to work in the tourism and sustainability sector.

He added that 90 hotels have been launched in the Kingdom as part of its tourism strategy, and more hotels will be opened soon, with the private sector financing 70 percent.

Al-Khatib told AFP in June that the kingdom hopes to attract 12 million foreign visitors in 2022, up from the 4 million tourists who visited Saudi Arabia in 2021.

“Saudi Arabia will change the tourism landscape globally. The destinations that Saudi Arabia will offer by 2030, is something completely different.

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