Youth steering travel’s tomorrow

As the New Year begins, travel, tourism and hospitality sectors will be venturing into a whole new world. Sustainability, cultural experiences, investment in the industry of travel, tourism and hospitality within the Middle East region with UAE and KSA taking a leap will be a year to look forward to. Experts from the industry share their views on trends and expectations with TRAVTALK.

Khaled Shaker, Director of Investment and Strategic Projects, Dubai Developments
Embarking on the journey of embracing the challenges presented by our diverse world, we remain steadfast in showcasing, and upholding our mission and vision to focus on sustainability and the future. The preceding years stand as a clear testament of our collective resilience. The evolving and growing businesses, travels, and tourism signify the creation of new opportunities, the pursuit of dreams, and remarkable achievements. In the coming years, we foresee that UAE, and the global business investment landscape continues to evolve, driven by transformative technologies.

Daniel Rosado, Director GCC, Spain Tourism
In 2024, Spain’s travel trends showcase a blend of cultural exploration and eco-conscious choices. Tourists seek authentic experiences, favouring lesser-known regions. Sustainable tourism gains traction with a focus on eco-friendly accommodations and responsible travel practices. Digital nomadism continues to rise, drawing individuals to Spain’s vibrant cities and picturesque landscapes. Culinary tourism remains a highlight, celebrating diverse regional cuisines. The use of advanced technology, like augmented reality, enhances the overall travel experience.

Aswin K, General Manager – Gulf & Middle East, Singapore Airlines, Dubai
2022 and 2023 have been years of recovery for many airlines with a strong focus on restoring operations. As the industry recovers and sets its sight on growth, 2024 should be a year where airlines innovate and plan for the years ahead. Customer centricity is the cornerstone of any successful business. I am excited to be a part of this evolving aviation landscape and look forward keenly.

Elmira Heshmati, Founder & CEO, Elaxiom Travel and Tourism Agency
Industry is poised for exciting transformations, especially for young explorers. Anticipate a surge in sustainable and experiential travel, as eco-conscious choices and immersive cultural encounters take centre stage. Technology will continue to enhance personalized journeys, from AI-driven trip planning to virtual travel experiences. The younger generation’s desire for unique and Instagram-worthy destinations pushing us.

Mariyam Kapasi, CEO and Founder, Amore Travel and Tourism
Amore Travel and Tourism anticipates a renewed wave of adventure and exploration. Guided by optimism, we foresee a surge in immersive travel experiences, a revitalized focus on sustainable tourism, and a celebration of diverse cultures. With our dedication to curating the finest travel plans worldwide, we aim to create countless memories and unforgettable stories.

Yamina Sofo, Director, Marketing & Sales Office – Gulf Countries, GNTO
As we look ahead to 2024, we are filled with a sense of excitement and anticipation, especially in light of the recent findings from the World Travel & Tourism Council’s 2023 Economic Impact Research. This report projects Germany’s Travel & Tourism to reach nearly 95 per cent of its pre-pandemic levels, underscoring the rapid rebound and our country’s unwavering appeal as a prime destination.

Endamia Karina Decour, Cluster Director of Marketing Communications, Raffles and Fairmont Doha
The emerging trend in luxury and lifestyle travel revolves around experiential and personalized journeys. Travellers now crave for authentic experiences tailored to their individual tastes. As a hotel provider, our task is akin to that of cultural innovators. We are entrusted with embracing the diversity inherent in our destinations and spotlighting immersive and authentic experiences.

Pramukshi Kariyawasam, Director of Marketing & Communications Shangri-La Dubai
Given the rapid tech advancements, a surge in automated and mobile bookings heralds a tech-driven era. With personalized experiences taking centre stage, our industry needs to adapt to cater to individual preferences. We could expect bleisure trips, blending business and leisure into a stay, whilst there will also be emphasis on more ‘transformative’ travel experiences. Marketing strategies must align with this trajectory.

Livio Goetz, Director GCC, Switzerland Tourism
Despite global challenges, Switzerland Tourism GCC anticipates high demand for travel in 2024. ST gears up for an exciting year, celebrating the GCC’s elevation as a priority market, driven by surging overnight stays post-COVID. Focus remains on UAE and KSA regions. Whilst summer is still the strongest season, an upswing in autumn travel emerges due to high temperatures in July and August.

Ashiya Nazar, Director, Akbar Travels
In 2024, Akbar Travels expands globally, opening new offices in Kenya and Tanzania in Africa, with upcoming launches in Australia, Canada and the Philippines. Leveraging our established reputation, we aim to form key partnerships and cater to travel enthusiasts worldwide. In Asia, Africa and Europe, we offer diverse experiences, embracing technology for streamlined operations and personalized service.

Amro Nagah, General Manager, Swissotel Al Murooj
Our mission is to promote and inspire sustainable practices that support the well-being of both people and the planet. We aim to create a positive impact on the environment, society, and the economy through our actions and initiatives. We strive to be leaders and change-makers in our industry, demonstrating that business can be a force for good. We have set objectives for this.

Malith Chamika, Holidays Supervisor, E Travels & Tours LLC
2024 will witness conscious focus on sustainability, culture, wellness and adventure. Travel trends that will shape the year ahead are bleisure. Mobile bookings are on the rise. Hence, there will be a drastic growth in automated bookings. Travellers nowadays seek a personalized and effective booking that involves a short window from SEARCH to the BOOK button. VISA application process is much convenient.

Tomasz Pawliszyn, Chief Executive Officer, AirHelp
All regions in the world are recovering well after setback from the global pandemic; we are especially looking forward to the long-haul destinations, as Asia was lagging behind from rest of the world. However, now we can see that this is changing and returning to 2019 levels as well. We expect that in the year 2024, there will be a total capacity return to the pre-pandemic levels.

Saad Arsanious, Cluster Director of Sales & Marketing, Grand Mercure Dubai City & ibis Styles Airport
In 2024, hospitality sector is poised for growth in Dubai and the UAE, with visitors aligning with Dubai Tourism’s strategic focus on niche source markets. The Grand Mercure Dubai City, strategically located next to the bustling Dubai Airport, anticipates heightened demand. The influx of passengers, driven by Dubai Airport’s vision to reach 130 million travelers by 2024, positions the hotel at the forefront.

Hoor Alkhaja , Senior Vice President – International Operations Dubai Economy and Tourism
Dubai has a vision that we call D33, which is Dubai’s economic strategy in the next 10 years to double the GDP of Dubai and also make it one of the best places in the world to live and to work. Part of this vision includes tourism. We want to be one of the top three most visited cities globally. And so we are well on our way to achieving this vision.

Meerah Ketait, Head of Retail & Leisure, dnata Travel
There continues to be a pent-up demand for travel, with GCC travellers seeking to explore more of the world than ever before. In 2024, our outlook for dnata Travel is a focus on enhancing the customer experience on and expanding our retail footprint, with local one-stop travel shops across the GCC – particularly in KSA.

Arik De, Chief Revenue Officer, Etihad Airways
We have a lot of ambitious growth plans for 2024, we already announced around five new destinations that we are going to start in 2024. We are getting new aircraft, which are enabling us to maintain our commitment to sustainability. In 2024, we will be able to see the benefits of our new home in terminal A in Abu Dhabi.

Prem Sagar, Group General Manager, Al Rais Travel & Shipping Agencies LLC
In 2024, UAE travel agencies are expected to adapt to the evolving landscape, integrating advanced technologies for personalized customer experiences. Anticipated trends include increased reliance on artificial intelligence for itinerary customization, seamless booking processes, and enhanced customer service through chatbots.

Sapna Aidasani, Director PR and Marketing, Pluto Travel
2023 was a great year for travel industry but the trends and traditions changed drastically in this year. We all know change is constant but one trend which we saw in 2023, which will grow more in 2024 is companies spending on staff incentive travel. Yes, the biggest challenge after COVID which every industry is facing is human resource .

Renjie Wong, Area Director, India, Middle East & South Asia Singapore Tourism Board
2024 is shaping up to be an incredibly exciting year for the Middle East travellers to visit Singapore. With the world’s destinations increasingly at our fingertips, thanks to ever-strengthening flight connectivity, we expect that 2024 is the year where experiential travel will become the norm. We see more visitors coming.

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