It could take as long as three years for tourism spend in the Middle East to recover levels seen in 2019 according to new research.

That is according to a recent YouGov survey, commissioned by Reed Exhibitions, the organiser of Arabian Travel Market.

The work is supported by forecast analysis carried out by Tourism Economics (TE).

According to research by TE and its parent company Oxford Economics, the vaccine rollout, pent up demand supported by high consumer savings, employment recovery and travel restrictions, will motivate the return to global economic growth of 5.6 per cent this year.

The total contribution of the travel and tourism industry in 2019 accounted for ten per cent of total GDP worldwide, highlighting its importance to the global economy.

“This is very encouraging,” said Danielle Curtis, exhibition director, Middle East, Arabian Travel Market, which will take place in-person at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 16th-19th.

“In 2020, spending on international leisure travel was only 20 per cent of the amount spent a year earlier.

“However, this year, spending compared with 2019, will recover to around half.

“It will increase to 75 per cent in 2022 and 95 per cent in 2023, until 2024, when spending in this segment will exceed pre-COVID levels by up to ten per cent,” added Curtis.

In advanced economies, household savings rates have jumped from less than ten per cent of income prior to 2020, to a spike of 25 per cent during lockdown, before dropping to just over 15 per cent as restrictions were eased.

In terms of vaccine rollout, although distribution maybe uneven and therefore inhibit some destinations from welcoming tourists, many popular leisure destinations such as the UAE, US, UK, Israel, Spain and Turkey aim to have up to 70 per cent of their populations vaccinated before the end of 2021.

Other measures will be necessary and are likely to be introduced in many destinations to facilitate travel recovery, such as more widespread testing.