After Expo 2020, Gulf region prepares for another big event in the region – the FIFA World Cup in Qatar – says Mamoun Hmedan, Chief Commercial Officer and MD MENA and India, Wego.
The FIFA World Cup is boosting tourism in the region, especially in the GCC. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. We see an increased demand on flights and hotels as a result. The biggest beneficiary after Qatar will be the surrounding countries in the region. Travellers attending the FIFA World Cup will get the chance to get a glimpse of other countries. Many are searching for hotel stays in nearby GCC countries with the UAE being the top of the list, followed by Saudi and Oman. The hotel occupancy rates in Dubai began to approach 100 per cent a month ahead of the event date. Dubai will be one of the top getaways to the World Cup travellers. The shuttle flights between Dubai and Doha, with around 60 to 79 flights per day, make it easier for travellers to commute. In addition, the multi entry visa scheme, which was rolled out recently, will drive more footfall to the country. “The hotel and flight searches to the UAE, around the period of the event (November 20 to December 18) recorded over 268,000 searches on our platform, and we expect to see an increase in searches and bookings as we get closer to the event date,” he says.
“Internationally, we have seen the highest demand in terms of flight searches to the UAE around the World Cup period from Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco, Germany, USA,” he adds.
“As with the summer travel, we see a lot of travellers searching for flights and hotels in the winter season, despite the spike in airfares to some destinations. Travellers still want to make up for the lost time and spend the holidays with their families and enjoy the magic of the winter season. Through our data, we are observing a new travel pattern. The Gulf countries will see an influx of European travellers this winter as they look for more economically stable destinations,” he further adds.
A lot of countries and tourism boards are working on special winter packages and preparing unforgettable winter experiences. “We also observe that a lot of GCC travellers tend to book in advance for the winter holidays,” Hmedan says.
The top winter destinations globally, between October and December 2022 are: India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia. “Through our data, we see that the average airfare globally will cost approximate $415 between October until December 2022. The average trip duration ranges between 3 to 7 days. And the top hotels in demand are 5-star hotels with 36 per cent, followed by 4-star hotels 28 per cent, 3- star hotels 22 per cent.