Sustainability and luxury key travel trends

Travellers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia are planning to spend more on holidays in 2023, with most in both markets (93 per cent) planning to go away, and more than two-thirds in each market (66 per cent in Saudi Arabia and 69 per cent in the UAE) planning more breaks than in 2022, finds a research by Marriott Bonvoy.

TT Bureau

Luxury will also be a key theme, with around 25 per cent people planning to stay in luxury accommodation whilst being away, says the report by Marriott Bonvoy’s 2023 Travel Trends. The research analysed the 2023 travel plans of 14,000 travellers across Europe and the Middle East.

The increase in trips and spending is, in part, due to the decline of the pandemic, and the fact that travel remains a priority for the Middle East consumers. Sustainability also plays an important role in 2023 travel plans, whilst ‘having a break from it all’ is key for holidaymakers.

Wellbeing Warriors Seeking Authentic Travel

Wellbeing-led holidays that allow people to get away from it all will be the predominant type of break those in the Middle East go on. More than six in 10 from the UAE (61 per cent) plan to, whilst the figure is even higher for Saudi Arabia (73 per cent). Authentic travel is also key, with many wanting to immerse themselves in a complete change of culture, with over half in both markets (55 per cent in the UAE and 56 per cent in Saudi Arabia) wanting to explore new destinations and cultures. Forty-eight per cent of those from the UAE and 44 per cent from Saudi Arabia going on extended holidays highlighted that being able to work remotely allows them to take a longer holiday without having to take annual leave for the whole break.

Premium Experience

In 2023, the majority of travellers plan to spend more on their holidays compared to the previous year – 74 per cent in the UAE and 69 per cent in Saudi Arabia say that they will. Around a quarter in each market (26 per cent in the UAE and 25 per cent in Saudi Arabia) plan to splash out and stay in luxury accommodation, whilst all-inclusive resorts will also be popular (17 per cent in the UAE and 12 per cent in Saudi Arabia).

Accompanying booking data from Marriott Bonvoy reveals how resilient luxury demand in the Middle East is, with bookings from April this year for luxury properties up 13 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Spend on Holiday

With more than nine in 10 respondents planning to go away, the majority of travellers are clearly trying to ring fence spending for holidays. Overall 66 per cent of those planning to go away in Saudi Arabia and 69 per cent in UAE say they will be going on more holidays in 2023 compared to the previous year, whilst far fewer say they will be travelling less frequently, suggesting a continued upwards trajectory for the industry post pandemic.

The Sustainability Factor

Sustainability is now a key factor when it comes to travel plans, with 85 per cent in the UAE and 80 per cent in Saudi Arabia saying environmental considerations now have some impact on their arrangements.

Neal Jones, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Marriott International – Europe, Middle East & Africa, says: “Travel trends for 2023 are more interesting than ever due to the unique situation we are in, as we look ahead to the way consumers plan to travel this year. What comes across very clearly is a resurgence in the sector based in large part on increased confidence among travellers, with most planning to spend more than last year and the demand for luxury with travellers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia remaining strong. This clearly shows great optimism, but also that people will be ring-fencing holiday spending.

“We are also seeing other, existing trends come into sharper focus. I’m delighted to see the priority that so many travellers are putting on sustainability.”

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