Travellers from the Middle East have shown a dramatic rise in interest for travel to Sudan, followed closely by Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to the recently released Q2 Global Travel Insights Report by Sojern.
Stewart Smith, senior director of sales at Sojern’s Dubai office, throws light on the finding...
“Aside from relative proximity, Sudan has been undergoing an extensive tourism rebranding effort, following the violent events of the past few years,” says Smith. “While most Western governments continue to uphold travel advisories against the country, Sudan does tend to appeal to the adventure-seeking types and has a great reputation for hospitality.”
On Sojern’s list, Sudan gained the most popularity, going up 24 spots this quarter.
According to recent reports, Sudan Airways launched three direct weekly flights from its hub at Khartoum International Airport to Abu Dhabi International Airport in early July this year. Earlier this year, low-cost carrier FlyDubai also started offering flights to South Sudan. Dubai-based HMH – Hospitality Management Holdings opened the EWA Khartoum Hotel & Apartments in Sudan in June. The opening is part of HMH’s strategic expansion in Sudan and reinforces the group’s strong presence in the country being its fourth hotel there.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Sudan’s rise in popularity is closely followed by this Balkan nation, which went up 21 spots in Sojern’s list. “Bosnia and Herzegovina’s ecosphere is considered one of the most pristine natures in Europe and travel and tourism is a fast-growing sector making up an important part in the economy of the country,” says Smith. “Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a top performer in recent years in terms of tourism development and tourist arrivals have grown by an average of 24 per cent annually from 1995 to 2000.
“In 2014, the World Economic Forum reported in its Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report that Bosnia and Herzegovina was the world’s eighth friendliest nation towards tourists and according to a recent estimate of the World Tourism Organization, Bosnia and
Herzegovina will have the third highest tourism growth rate in the world by 2020.
“It’s probably also important to note that Bosnia and Herzegovina has an important Muslim heritage and a large proportion of its population is made up by Muslim Bosniaks. The presence and expertise of travel companies that specialise in catering to Muslim tourists are increasingly making it a desirable and accommodating destination to Muslims from around the world.”
EID TRAVEL TRENDS
Following the conclusion of Ramadan, the average regional week-on-week travel intent peaked at 180 per cent in the Middle East compared with 117 per cent for Southeast Asia, as reported by Sojern. July 16 was the heaviest travel day, followed by a four-day period of consistently high travel volumes.
Average trip durations also increased significantly: 63 per cent of travellers from the region looked to travel for more than eight days and almost 45 per cent for 12 days or more, at least partially reflecting the number of public holidays observed in the region.
“We’re referring to travel during Eid. Year-on-year is up 1 per cent taking into account the three days around the travel spike. Sounds a bit low, but the holiday fell slightly different last year. It was early in the week in 2014, but end of the week in 2015, which might explain that.
“The global top 10 countries with the highest week-on-week growth around the Eid holiday were dominated by Middle Eastern countries Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which lead the way with 2 to 3.3 times higher travel intent during the holidays than for the week before, likely prompted by the three to five observed public holidays in most countries in the region.
Sojern also reports that the average trip durations also increased significantly: 63 per cent of travellers from the region looked to travel for more than eight days and almost 45 per cent for 12 days or more, at least partially reflecting the number of public holidays observed in the region.
UAE DROPS 38 PLACES
A rather curious finding from the report has been that since Q4 2014, the UAE tumbled a whopping 38 places in Americans’ list of desired summer destinations.
“The drop is perhaps less dramatic than the data would indicate if we take into consideration that Q4/December is the best period for Americans to consider the UAE as a destination. Americans primarily look to go to the UAE during Q1 or the end of Q3 of the following year, during winter and late fall in the US but when the temperatures are bearable in the UAE.
“Also, the tendency to look closer and closer to home for summer travel as the quarters evolve is widespread, not only in the US, but globally.
The closer we get to the actual travel date, the less adventurous the bookers become.
“Several factors come into play including the availability of vacation days, the cost and the distance.”
Projections for third quarter
Stewart Smith, senior director of sales at Sojern’s Dubai office, shares his projections of the most likely outbound destinations for travellers from the Middle East for the third quarter of this year.
3. United States
5. United Kingdom
7. Saudi Arabia
10. United Arab Emirates
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