Emerging travel trends in ME

Attendees at Arabian Travel Market put forth the trends that are affecting the dynamics of the tourism and hospitality industry in the Middle East region. Digitalisation is here to stay as accommodation inventories and attractions are steadily increasing showing impressive numbers.


“Tourism is a constantly changing industry and we can see tourism to the Middle East is defined by mass and niche markets. Warm climate and beautiful beach resorts are always popular with visitors from colder climates while other tourists are looking for ‘remarkable experiences’ in a location or culture that they can talk about and share with their family and friends. Sharjah is confident that it will achieve 10 million visitors by 2021 and some of these will be positively affected by Expo 2020. Sharjah will add 7000 new rooms to its inventory over the next three years with a significant increase to help accommodate growth across the region. Moving past this tourism will continue to evolve, with new developments in air transportation, even more of the world will open up. Communication will allow better messaging as social media becomes further developed to an increasingly cynical millennial market. There are no guarantees for the future but what is sure is that the expected standards of accommodation and attractions will be expected to rise and potential markets will continue to search for destinations that are genuine and authentic and not already saturated with mass tourism. In Sharjah we are confident that we will continue to evolve our standards and our steady growth developing our assets sensitively will mean we can continue to ensure that we meet future trends effectively.”
His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA)

“The Middle East continues to be a leading player in the global travel industry and despite a slowdown in arrivals from traditional source countries, the region effectively counters this trend through its diversification strategy. This new direction, combined with a relatively young demographic implies several trends that will re-shape consumer habits and drive the sector in the future. Prominent trends include: further digitalisation of the industry, the desire for more personalised travel experience, and the boom of travel apps and remote payments. Travelport’s technology is cutting edge in enabling travel players to meet and exceed expectations around new travel trends. Travelport puts the value of wide content and personalisation as key themes in upcoming years. By connecting all the people in travel with the people who travel we’re leading the digital transformation of the travel industry and we are continually transforming our unique platform to drive high travel performance and empower travel experience experiences for the global travel industry. Our digital strategy and value propositions focus on creating superior travel experiences across multiple devices and channels. Our work enables airlines, TMCs and travel agencies to leverage ‘every moment in travel’ with mobile and digital services that transform how they interact with their travellers.”
Matthew Powell, Director-Middle East and South Asia, Travelport

“Inbound market to Dubai is key to its tourism success. Key markets for Dubai and Golden Sands are India, KSA and UK. Inbound traffic accounts for the biggest percentage of tourism business to Dubai. Trend in travel for this region is still relatively unchanged with GCC countries still booking with short lead time, whilst European markets tend to book early. There are also more B2B and B2C companies, increasing the volume of business coming via online channels. Hospitality industry is seeing more companies creating software/ apps to not only help increase volume of business but also to improve visibility of one’s products. Millennials are those tourists who need to be connected and able to post/share information online as and when they are experiencing it. Travellers to this region will continue to increase as more attractions, such as Dubai Parks & Resorts, open up. Families from within ME will also visit the attractions, thereby increasing tourist numbers. Additionally, we are seeing increased tourists from areas such as China, and the numbers will only continue to grow due to the size of its population.”
Mohammed Khoori, General Manager, Golden Sands Hotel Apartments

“ATM is very important, it enables key people within the industry across the globe to meet in an efficient and productive manner, share knowledge and trade, and showcase Dubai. The travel industry, as most sectors currently, is facing challenges that further highlight the importance of ATM. It is still an innovative and growing sector with demand remaining relatively robust; however, customers are increasingly seeking more value and lower price points. Demand for more ‘authentic’ travel experiences is also growing. Digitalisation is disrupting the sector. Customers are now more in control of how they source inspiration, search, book and share their travel arrangements and it’s important that companies understand these changing customer needs and adapt the technology to support. However, great service and product delivery and customisation remains imperative.”
Robin Parry, Vice President, Emirates Holidays

“The Arabian Travel Market is the largest travel exhibition in the region and an excellent platform to meet our existing clients and network with the potential ones. We take this opportunity to showcase the excellent and exclusive products and services of the national carrier to India to our valued partners. As India’s national flag carrier to the Gulf region since the late 60s we have been connecting over 13 cities in six countries in GCC/MEA region to 69 domestic destinations in India and to the US, Europe, Australia, Far East and South East Asia. The positive impact of digitalisation can be observed by 10 per cent Y-o-Y growth in web bookings on Air India’s website and on Air India Express (IX), our LCC subsidiary, all bookings are net based. IX had a 45 per cent growth in operations in GCC region. We are responding to the strong demand on travel needs for employment, corporates, tour operators or governments and will be introducing attractive packages with special focus on the Gulf, the Middle East and Asian region and connectivity to India in 2017.”
Melwin D’Silva, Regional Manager, Air India

“ATM is a very important platform for travel, tourism and hospitality. Over the years it has created the ideal platform for trade partners to negotiate key business deals over a period of four days. Today, we witness a very educated and knowledgeable traveller who would seek the assistance of a travel agent after careful research on his own about the type of destination to travel, reasons to travel, how, where and what needs to be done. Both traditional and online travel agencies are used as a medium of consultation which places the agents and their partners on a higher level. As we see an upward trend in the usage of smart phones as DMCs we should be prepared to cater to the new age of traveller whether it is business or leisure. The online world will have to work better on the social media arena, not only through targeted marketing, but through sharing experiences better. Online giants cannot continue being bookers. They have to move into being travel consultants. Hotels are trying to reduce the dependency on these giants and this where they can mark their difference.”
Samir Hamadeh, General Manager, Alpha Destination Management

“ATM is certainly one of the key shows for inbound operators and certainly for Arabian Adventures to attend. It provides an opportunity to not only meet with tour operator partners but also to showcase the destination, our products and services. At Arabian Adventures we operate in 60 markets worldwide and it is therefore vital that we research and survey to find out what our clients need – be it for FIT or MIE. We have a product development team that works on refining our product portfolio and assessing the potential of new experiences. The infrastructural development of the UAE has been the significant factor toward offering world class experiences to international tourists. At Arabian Adventures, we work across multiple markets and continually collaborate with partners, consortia and associations across all the markets we operate in. We have a proud history of pioneering new products and investing in unique experiences be it around culinary endeavours the desert, conservation and local heritage.”
Samir Mehta, General Manager, Arabian Adventures

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