THE outbound market for Mice and luxury travel from the GCC region is witnessing changing trends for destination preferences according to key Mice and luxury travel specialists attending the upcoming fifth Annual Mice Arabia and Luxury Travel Congress.
Some of the top factors that are influencing travel trends are, upcoming and unique destinations that are well connected and availability of preferred food. Outbound travel from the GCC is also influenced by popular culture, and the rich cultural and historical landscape of the MENA region. Turkish soap operas which are shown in GCC countries, drive great attention to Turkey, and Turkey’s flexible visa regime is an advantage.
GCC guests also feel comfortable that they can travel from Istanbul to Antalya, İzmir and other cities without worrying about the availability of food and other necessities.
Security concerns are not isolated to GCC countries only, but are indeed a global issue for luxury travel and the hospitality industry. According to Khaled Aridi, director of Mice, Nakhal Tours, Lebanon, “The GCC market represents around 70 per cent of all inbound tourism in Lebanon. However, the recent political situation in Lebanon, and the security conflicts in the MENA region have posed significant challenges to the development of this tourist demography.” Visa free travel for the GCC countries, luxury hotels and the high-quality of services, and Lebanese cuisine continues to be main draws in driving business in Lebanon.
The period from June to September is the main travel season. During these months, which coincide with school holidays and extreme summer heat, outbound travel is high. Exotic getaways are not always tropical or beach-based, and travellers from the GCC region do seek out different and natural weather phenomena. “Scandinavia is as exotic to the GCC client as the GCC countries are to us. In contrast to the hot summers in the GCC countries, we offer cool, blue majestic fjord waters and midnight sun–this change of climate can be very attractive,” explained Dag Kastensson, CEO, SNE Northern Europe, a Swedish destination management company.
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