Travellers from the Gulf continue to patronise Georgia and Azerbaijan this summer, while Malaysia,
Indonesia and Thailand also confirm their pull over regional tourists
Despite every country in the GCC ramping up its summer activations in a bid to keep residents entertained and encourage intra-regional travel, people are travelling around the world for that much-needed break.
A survey conducted by leading travel search site and app Skyscanner, has revealed that over 75 per cent of GCC respondents are planning to travel this summer, with 37.7 per cent choosing Asia as their destination of choice. About 28 per cent chose Europe, while 11.7 per cent selected travel within the Middle East.
“While a great number of GCC travellers are choosing Asia this summer, our outbound data has shown a substantial year on year increase to cooler destinations such as Helsinki, Oslo and St Petersburg, especially over the Eid al Adha period,” Sam Ayles, Skyscanner’s marketing manager for the Middle East, tells TTN. “We have also noted that family travel and family-friendly destinations are still a priority for GCC travellers this summer.”
“Thanks to the hit HBO series Chernobyl, we've had to double our seats for Kyiv and Russia”
– Albert Dias
When asked about the duration of their travel, over 42 per cent of survey respondents from the region answered 14+ days, while only 4 per cent selected 1 to 3 days. The most important feature GCC travellers consider when selecting a destination is ‘family friendly’ with 29 per cent of the vote, followed by relaxation at 26 per cent, and cultural experiences at 18 per cent. ‘Adventure’ received the least amount of votes with just 9 per cent.
When asked who they plan to travel with, 35 per cent of respondents said they will be travelling alone and 33 per cent with family. Lastly, over 30 per cent of respondents selected ‘apartment or house’ as their accommodation of choice, versus 24 per cent for boutique hotel and 23 per cent for luxury hotels or resorts.
Other trends reveal that South East Asia, especially Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, are firm favourites with the UAE outbound traveller this summer.
Bangkok leads the way with flight bookings up 164 per cent versus 2018, according to Dubai-based online flight and hotel booking platform, tajawal. Cosmopolitan island paradise Bali is up 150 per cent over the same period. Outbound bookings to Kuala Lumpur have also rocketed by 130 per cent versus 2018.
The popularity of South East Asia supports this year’s wider trend of UAE residents choosing overseas destinations over local staycations for their holidays. International hotel bookings on tajawal have increased to 74 per cent this year from 45 per cent in 2018, while domestic stays declined to 26 per cent versus 55 per cent last year. Mid-range boutique and upscale four-star hotels have also increased in popularity versus their luxury counterparts as travellers seek authentic experiences in cities across the globe.
Closer to home, Istanbul with its rich history and lively entertainment holds its position as one of the leading destinations for UAE travellers and South Caucasus tourism continues to grow with culture seekers and outdoor adventurers heading to Baku in
Tajawal is also seeing the trend of multiple short breaks declining, with UAE residents taking longer holidays overseas. The average length of stay based on flight booking data has increased by 70 per cent to 17 days as travellers look further afield to explore diverse cultures and climates. Many are also capitalising on the longer public holidays in 2019 to make the most of their vacation time.
Muzzammil Ahussain, EVP of tajawal said: “It’s interesting to see more UAE residents and citizens heading overseas this year and particularly to South East Asia which is a relatively short flight away and incredibly rich in culture, cuisine and diverse landscapes. City breaks remain the most popular choice for holidays from the UAE, with places like Singapore topping the list alongside Bangkok and Istanbul. Here in the UAE, we have a real appetite to see the world, demonstrated by an increase in spent of 30 per cent and 50 per cent on flights and hotels respectively across our booking platform.”
The average group size is also increasing in 2019, up 15 per cent versus 2018 as more families and friends escape to cooler climes.
For the upcoming Eid Al Adha holidays, tajawal feels people will go all out to experience historic Caucasus destinations such as Baku and Tbilisi, discover the regions of the southern Alps in Bosnia and Herzegovina or bask in the idyllic landscapes of Seychelles and Maldives.
“Our data has shown a substantial YoY increase to cooler destinations such as Helsinki, Oslo and St Petersburg”
– Sam Ayles
Meanwhile, travel portal Musafir.com announced a 30 per cent rise in holiday travel bookings for the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2018. While visa-free short-haul destinations are among the top selling, Musafir.com sees a rising trend towards Russia, Ukraine, China and Eastern Europe for holiday goers from the Middle East. These upcoming destinations have shown an uptake of passengers of almost 10 per cent when compared to previous years, with Musafir.com. Overall, during the recent Eid holiday period they saw a 100 per cent increase in sales as compared to last year.
For the upcoming Eid Al Adha break, Musafir.com recently announced a range of attractive travel deals, which include affordable short holidays, luxury getaways and week-long vacations for families and first-time travellers.
“While it's been business as usual for destinations like Georgia, Baku and Armenia, we've seen the demand for European destinations soar – particularly the likes of Switzerland, Paris, Prague, Budapest and Vienna. We've seen a surge in demand for China and Vietnam holiday packages – both sold out in a week.
“Thanks to the hit HBO series Chernobyl, we've had to double our seats for Kyiv and Russia. The government's decision to grant both private and public sectors the same number of holidays has been key to the rise in demand for these destinations,” Albert Dias, CPTO and co-founder of Musafir.com, tells TTN.
The portal also announced its intentions of achieving a 30 per cent year-on-year growth in corporate sales by the end of this year.
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