Travel is slowly on the cards again with borders around the world opening up cautiously, airlines announcing tentative dates and hotels getting certified, clean and ready to welcome guests. The sentiment is positive across the board.
A new Almosafer study published early last month found that Saudi nationals were confident to travel again, with the domestic leisure market set to benefit first. The survey interviewed over 3,000 participants, with 73 per cent of Saudis saying they were confident to travel as restrictions eased. The visiting friends and family segment will be prioritised first, with domestic travel set to prosper.
While expert advice and precautionary measures will be integral to travel decisions, 38 per cent of Saudi nationals are planning to travel within GCC first, 35 per cent are keen to discover their country through domestic leisure trips.
The recent Travel Sentiment Survey conducted by AllDetails, a Dubai based travel & tourism, hospitality, lifestyle and communications agency, revealed that GCC residents intend to travel again soon, preferring international destinations.
The survey was conducted amongst residents and citizens of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in order to understand their sentiment towards travel during the Covid19 pandemic. 83 per cent have said that they enjoy thinking about travel during this period while 56 per cent of the respondents admitted that they were negatively affected by Covid-19 news.
The respondents expect to have some health security guarantees in place to travel again and will then travel as soon as 2 to 4 weeks after the travel restrictions have been lifted; for both leisure and business purposes. The survey revealed that 72 per cent of GCC travellers will travel for leisure, with a change in scenery being their first priority and 80 per cent will travel for a duration of one week or more.
In another survey conducted by Aviareps of 94 of the GCC’s leading outbound travel agencies, demand for outbound travel is expected to return from August/September 2020, with a majority of travel agencies to commence promoting their travel offerings from July through to September 2020. Most promotional offerings will take the form of full travel packages that include air, accommodation and tour components, with intra-Middle East packages to be most popular, followed by packages for travel to South East Asia, Indian Ocean destinations and Europe.
Respondents to the survey included 24 agencies form Saudi Arabia, 21 from the UAE, 21 from Bahrain, 11 from Qatar, 10 from Kuwait and 7 from Oman.
60 per cent of respondents expect a return to outbound travel from August and September 2020, with 14 per cent expecting a return not until 2021. Following this, 65 per cent of travel agents will commence their outreach to clients with promotions from July through to September, with even 13 per cent commencing client engagement from June 2020.
When asked what percentage of total outbound demand agents believe will go to which region, Intra-Middle East travel ranked the highest at 17 per cent, following by South East Asia at 14 per cent, the Indian Ocean destinations of Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles at 12 per cent and Europe at 11 per cent.
When looking at individual destinations that GCC agents will actively promote, or expect demand for, the top 10 destinations in order of perceived popularity included: Maldives, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, Austria, the UAE, Australia, Germany, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
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