Wego delves into travellers’ behaviour

Wego and Cleartrip Travel shares an insight report on behaviour of travellers in the MENA region. The survey questioned 4,390 residents from UAE and KSA on travel issues. The report also highlights the impact of Covid-19 on travel, trends currently being witnessed and signs of recovery.

TT Bureau

The near-term outlook for travel looks favourable, and people are looking to spend more and travel longer in 2022.

Travel scenario

After numerous lockdowns, never ending changes in restrictions and the constant updates on flights, airport protocols and hotel capacity changes, a lot of passengers are still eager to travel albeit being a bit
more cautious.

Vaccinated travellers

Out of the total survey respondents, 99 per cent said they were vaccinated while only 1 per cent
said they were not.
The increase in the number of vaccinated people has had a positive impact on travel.

Forward look and planning a trip

As more restrictions are eased worldwide, and vaccinations rates have increased, people are eager to travel more and make up for the lost time.

According to Wego, in 2022, flights and hotel searches increased by 81 per cent in February and 102 per cent in March. This show that people are looking to travel more.

Lower risk destinations that guarantee an easy return have been prioritised. The majority of the respondents have opted for destinations which are perceived to be safe and where Covid-19 protocols have been adhered to.

Remote work and rise in hotel bookings

With more people continuing to work remotely in 2022, hotels are seeing a great demand regardless of seasonality. Wego saw a spike in the number of searches on holiday homes 136 per cent, hotel apartments 92 per cent and apartments by 69 per cent. The length of stay has increased by 19 per cent in 2022 in comparison with 2021. People are also opting for 5-star hotels, which follow stricter safety measures. Wego saw an increase of 66 per cent in searches for 5-star hotels.

Trip expenses and likelihood to travel

79 per cent of respondents from Cleartrip’s survey witnessed an increase in Covid-19 requirements, surge in ticket prices and unexpected circumstances leading to flight changes, which contributed to a 20 per cent increase in their trip expenses post-Covid-19. 78 per cent of respondents are likely to travel and have trips planned, at least once in the next three months. The near-term outlook for travel looks favourable. According to Wego’s data, summer 2022 will be all about long holidays and travellers will be spending more on leisure travel to make up for the lost time.

Leisure destinations

As to the most popular destinations respondents plan to visit, the following look to remain tourism powerhouses: UAE, KSA, Maldives, United Kingdom, Georgia, Turkey, Serbia, Seychelles.

Average fares and booking value 2022

  • Wego and Cleartrip see an increase in the average airfares in 2022 vis-a-vis 2019.
  • The average round-trip fares to and from the UAE have increased 23 per cent.
  • Round-trip airfares to MENA region rose by 20 per cent.
  • Round-trip airfares to Europe increased by 39 per cent.
  • Round-trip airfares to South Asia increased by 5 per cent.
  • For India round-trip fares have witnessed a 21 per cent increase as compared to 2019.

Cancellations

In the UAE, the average flight cancellations in 2019 were 6-7 per cent pre-Covid-19. At the onset of the pandemic, the cancellations witnessed a considerable spike and were as high as 519 per cent. In April 2021, the closure of the Asian corridor once again led to a rise in cancellations. However, in 2022 with travel recovering, the cancellations are slowly moving back to pre-Covid-19 figures at 7-8 per cent. A similar trend was witnessed in the Saudi market.

Most booked places

  • UAE: India, Pakistan, Egypt, Qatar, Nepal, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Georgia, Turkey.
  • KSA Domestic: Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, Jazan, Madinah and Tabuk.
  • KSA International: Egypt, UAE, Qatar, Philippines, Bangladesh, Bahrain
  • MENA: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India, UAE, Turkey, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco

Advance purchase

The rise of the pandemic also showed a sudden spike in share of near-time bookings (0-3 days) and a steep drop in the average number of days between booking and the actual travel date. This was due to the unpredictable changes that pre-Covid-19 brought.

In 2022, travellers are significantly more comfortable planning travel in advance after more streamlined processes have been put in place.

Journey type and leisure holidays

Stay Duration: The pandemic brought out an increase of unpredictable scenarios and with expats readjusting their work and family plans, the proportion of one-way trips spiked during the early months of the pandemic. Cleartrip also saw a corresponding decline in round trips. Round trips and, more specifically, leisure travel, have rebounded significantly in the recent months.

KSA: The share of
KSA domestic travel has been observed to increase during periods of increased travel restrictions. Wego recorded over 65 per cent increase in flight searches for leisure trips between January – April 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. Searches for hotels surged by 29 per cent between January – April 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.

Trip duration: According to Wego, the overall trip duration has increased, and people are looking for longer trips. 4–7-day trips saw an increase of 100 per cent, whereas the demand for 8–11-day trip rose by 75 per cent.

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