The travel and tourism sector is expected to create 18,000 jobs in the UAE in the next year, according to a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council.

And the trend is set to continue with a 2.4 per cent rise annually, which would mean 410,000 additional tourism jobs by 2027.

All those extra roles are predicted to boost the UAE economy by 2.9 per cent. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s new report on the UAE economy also gives positive predictions, saying that the Expo 2020 could boost Dubai’s economy by 2 per cent, thanks to the jobs created.

Cooper Fitch CEO Trefor Murphy said that he sees the bulk of these new jobs in hospitality, with further increases in the travel sector. “The UAE has, over the past 12 months, built several new five-star plus hotels with many more on the way; and there is still a further significant demand for more low- to mid-cost hotels,” he said.

“As the UAE continues to gear up to Expo 2020, this trend is set to continue – typically, we see this continued increase in demand will mean salaries will harden, with a potential ‘war for talent’ occurring in 2019.”

Paul Hart, general manager at First Recruitment Group, said the increased number of roles and the ongoing high numbers of people wanting to work and live in the UAE would mean salaries in the sector decreased slightly. “I’ve seen a small increase in the number of travel and tourism jobs available,” Hart said. “The sector is building towards the 2020 Expo, so construction recruits have seen the largest increase in numbers, as hotels are being built now ready for 2020. But there are also many mid-level jobs available.”

With nationalisation high on the UAE agenda, tourism and hospitality businesses will be keen to employ talented Emiratis. Traditionally, Emiratis have shunned jobs in tourism and the private sector in preference for work in the public sector. This is changing slowly, thanks in part to initiatives from respected names such as Jumeirah Group – the luxury hotel brand that offers several specialised recruitment and training programmes for Emirati nationals.

But it is still a challenge to encourage Emiratis to work in travel and tourism. The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) in Dubai is helping to educate UAE nationals about the benefits of a professional career in the tourism sector. “Creating world-class UAE tourism professionals through Emiratisation is more than a mission, it’s at the heart of the DTCM’s social and economic development plans. One objective of the ambitious goals outlined in our Tourism Vision 2020 is to increase the number of Emiratis working in tourist-facing roles,” states the DTCM’s website.

DTCM runs an Industry Nationalisation Initiative which is directed at young UAE nationals, including high school graduates, university students and job seekers, with the aim of increasing awareness of Dubai’s tourism sector, and offering training and strong career options within the sector. After candidates complete the training courses, Dubai College of Tourism (DCT) will assist them in finding a position and will provide support as they transition into their new role.

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