Brighter skies ahead for Mideast carriers

Issac John /Dubai Filed on July 4, 2021
The Middle East regional carriers have higher local appetite for business travel.

The UAE tops in international travel sentiment.

The UAE stands out in terms of international travel sentiment, with respondents planning to travel substantially more than consumers in other countries while globally, appetite for international travel is much lower than domestic, a study on the global travel and tourism industry revealed.

In the Middle East, regional carriers have brighter skies ahead with higher local appetite for business travel whether to destinations regionally, in Europe or Asia Pacific (Apac).

“Both domestic and regional tourism is expected to be vibrant. Consideration for major destinations in the Middle East such as Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Egypt, and Qatar has been trending upward since November 2020,” said YouGov’s International Travel & Tourism Report 2021, which analyses consumer travel preferences and identifies the emerging opportunities that will prove most lucrative for industry players.

Another important finding of the study is that consumer sentiment data points to a slow demand for business travel compared to leisure travel.

Respondents in the APAC and Middle East Africa regions are more likely to travel for business, both domestically and internationally, than those in Europe and North America.

“Those in the Middle East particularly are more likely to travel internationally for business, meaning this could be a favourable target market for airlines and hotels, particularly those brands offering more premium products,” YouGov’s study said.

“The road back to normality is going to be a bumpy one. Only one in five consumers globally plan to travel internationally in the next 12 months, so competition to attract them will be fierce,” said Eva Stewart, Global Sector Head of Travel & Tourism.

Globally, appetite for international travel (18 per cent) is lower than domestic (51 per cent) even as 77 per cent of global consumers are planning travel in the next 12 months with 57 per cent planning more than two trips.

Millennials and Gen X are the main sources of demand in the near-term while On-The-Go travellers (more than three trips in the next 12 months) account for 29 per cent of planned travellers but offer the highest revenue opportunity per traveller due to their initial confidence, the study revealed.

Not a single industry has been halted by the pandemic more so than travel & tourism. But as the pandemic begins to subside, what does the road back to normality look like? Turbulent conditions are forecast ahead and competition to attract consumers will be fierce – that much is certain.

Responsible travellers are the second largest segment of traveller type — after Budget/Value — and growing. “While we see a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the Covid-19 crisis, people are increasingly aware of the climate crisis on the horizon. But, travel is inherently a force for good; a means by which to share ideas, cultures, and spread the wealth of the world,” said the report.

Globally, around a third of people feel restrictions are preventing them from traveling, but it remains a primary obstacle for consumers in Australia (55 per cent said so in May), Germany (60 per cent), Indonesia (45 per cent), Saudi Arabia (40 per cent), Norway (57 per cent), the UK (62 per cent), and the UAE (45 per cent).

Popular types of trips among those with their sights on destinations abroad are multi-centre vacations staying in two or more destinations in one trip, cruises, tours, safari and wildlife vacations, health spa vacations, and sailing or boating (sea, river, canals). Roughly a quarter of those planning an international trip would typically go on beach vacations, city breaks and visit the great outdoors, said the report.



Issac John

Editorial Director of Khaleej Times, is a well-connected Indian journalist and an economic and financial commentator. He has been in the UAE's mainstream journalism for 35 years, including 23 years with Khaleej Times. A post-graduate in English and graduate in economics, he has won over two dozen awards. Acclaimed for his authentic and insightful analysis of global and regional businesses and economic trends, he is respected for his astute understanding of the local business scene.

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