Expat retirement visas could boost tourism numbers at GCC events and attractions says ATM


Providing expatriate workers, who qualify, with residence visas to stay beyond their working lives and the introductions of a series of other new visa options will be key for tourism and give a boost to attractions, activities and entertainment venues. This will be one of the topics addressed at Arabian Travel Market (ATM), 2022, which takes place on 8-11 May.

ARIVAL Dubai @ ATM, advances the creation of in-destination experiences by providing insights and a community for creators and sellers of tours, activities and attractions. It examines current and future trends and focuses on growing business through marketing, technology, distribution, thought leadership, and executive level connections.

It is estimated that there are currently over 35 million expatriate workers in the GCC countries and there could be a sizeable proportion of the white-collar community, that might want to retire in the GCC, even if it was only for a short period of time.

“With the means and time on their hands, it would be natural, not only for these retirees to travel, but also to receive family and friends. Airlines, hotels, destinations and other entertainment venues, all benefit from this additional revenue stream which ordinarily might have been lost, had the retirees returned to their home countries,” said Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market.

In addition, it is hardly a coincidence that two of Dubai’s top feeder markets in 2019, India with two million visitors and the UK, with 1.2 million visitors have communities in the UAE, of 2.6 million and 120,000 respectively,” she added.

Spotting this potential, Dubai Tourism in collaboration with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA-Dubai), has already launched an initiative called ‘Retire in Dubai’, the first of its kind in the region, a practical framework with certain minimum financial requirements, whereby residents of Dubai who are approaching retirement age, can apply for a renewable, five-year retirement visa.

“If this initiative is a success, it is more than likely that other GCC nations will follow at some point. Retired expatriates would undoubtedly contribute significantly to the tourism sector, receiving family and friends and continuing to enjoy a quality lifestyle that they have become accustomed to,” added Curtis.

Worth $254 billion globally in 2019, the tours, activities, and attractions segment of travel and tourism is not just the third-largest part of travel; it is why many people travel in the first place. Providing just such a catalyst would be events and attractions, such as Expo 2020, FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, Ain Dubai, as well as the upcoming tourism attractions in Saudi Arabia and the natural beauty of Oman.

Now in its 29th year and working in collaboration with the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) and Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), the event, show highlights in 2022 will include, among others, destination summits focused on key source markets Saudi, Russia, China and India.

Travel Forward, the leading global event for travel technology which puts a spotlight on the latest, next generation technology for travel and hospitality, ATM buyer forums and speed networking events.

ATM 2022 will also host dedicated conference summits on the Global Stage, covering aviation, hotels, sports tourism, retail tourism and a special hospitality investment seminar. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s premier business travel and meetings trade organisation, will once again be participating at ATM. The GBTA will deliver the latest business travel content, research and education to drive the recovery and support growth in business travel. And in collaboration with ‘Arival the in-destination voice’, ATM will run a half day conference on 8th May or Day 1 of ATM.

ATM will play an integral role in Arabian Travel Week, a festival of events dedicated to travel professionals from all over world, to collaborate and shape the recovery of the Middle East travel industry, through exhibitions, conferences, breakfast briefings, awards, product launches and networking events.

Following 2021, ATM Virtual will once again take place within Arabian Travel Week to complement the live ATM show. With an extensive, high-level programme of webinars and a full schedule of video meetings available to exhibitors with key buyers around the world.