Middle East economies are set to recover to 2019 GDP levels by 2022 as per IMF. The 6 GCC economies will rebound this year growing by 2% - 3%. In 2021, the 2 biggest economies and accounting for 41% of Muslim travelers’ global outbound spending - UAE is forecast to expand about 2.5% and Saudi Arabia by 3.5%.
Consumer Confidence is building strongly with Dubai’s CCI rising to 151 points in the Q2 2021, a 21% gain compared to the same period last year. The 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar, will generate high excitement and boost $ 20 bn to the economy, benefiting the region.
The appetite for travel improved due to vaccination rollouts with 72% residents having already travelled or intending to travel.
Prior to the pandemic, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the Middle East GDP was estimated by the WTTC to reach $133.6 billion by 2028.
Travel Trends and Intent in GCC
Travel intent was robust with 59% of residents in the UAE and KSA who took a domestic or international leisure trip from Q3 2020.
The key reasons of travel include 45% Leisure (Culture, History, Shopping, Wellness and Family Visits) and 29% for Business travel.
Safety has become a top priority for Travelers in recent times. As a result, the staycation trend is growing with residents keen to take a break away from their home in a location that is familiar to them. Almost 60% of UAE travelers booked staycations in summer between June-August 2021, while 40% opted for an international holiday.
Women account for more than 50% of the travel bookings and a new product of pre-arranged all-women group trips has developed to meet this growing demand.
Profile of the Middle East Traveler
Middle East residents have about 30-40 days a year available for holidays and often go on 2 or 3 trips a year, including 1 major international trip outside the region.
International Leisure travelers from the Middle East are more males than females, with 21 to 40 years representing 75% of the regional travelers. Based on life phase, till the late 20’s, they travel as couples or groups of friends. 68% are married with children which confirms the large incidence of travelling as families.
More than 30% of outbound trips from the region were taken by immigrants with residence and work licenses, as they mostly travel abroad to visit friends and relatives.
Middle East travelers spend upto 40% more when compared to other countries and stay for 70% longer periods.