What the Mideast traveller wants

The Arab traveller is looking for something different this year, moving away from traditional packaged holidays
for a more detailed and personalised curated travel experience, says Brown + Hudson

Japan is expected to be a key outbound destination for the Middle Eastern traveller this year. Pictured above: Aman’s fourth resort in Japan - Aman Niseko – scheduled to open in 2023

Some trends and insights for 2020 that we identified from the Middle East outbound market are below.



While Europe remains ever-popular for the Arab traveller, we are starting to see this trend move away from the big European hubs of Rome, Venice, Paris and London for more unusual travel destinations that are less-explored such as the French Riviera and the Azores.

These travellers are looking for something different. Something their friends haven’t done. Somewhere that is about to pick up on the global scale and to be one of the travellers who were there ‘before it was cool’; destinations that offer unique bragging.

Georgia and Azerbaijan continue to be popular destinations due to ease of access and temperate summer climates, but as their popularity grows, this is prompting the luxury traveller to look at new emerging destinations such as Zagorochoria in Northern Greece and the Scottish Highlands.



We are starting to see the Arab traveller move away from traditional travel agencies and package holidays, for a more detailed and personalised curated travel experience.


Travellers are finding comfort in having a travel provider on a retainer, much like they would with a financial advisor or a legal advisor


The feedback we are receiving from travellers out of the GCC is that as their wanderlust grows and the world becomes more accessible, they want to bring the luxuries they are accustomed to such as incredible high-levels of service, flexibility to change plans and a travel provider who completely understands them and their needs. This is where our concept of Bespoke 2.0 comes in, as well as our retainer-based relationships.

Travellers are finding comfort in having a travel provider on a retainer, much like they would with a financial advisor or a legal advisor. Our unique approach to travel allows us to identify the needs of our client and provide unparalleled levels of service whilst tailoring their travel to their interests.



South America continues to build momentum as flight connections expand across the continent, coupled with trade deals and tourism board marketing efforts increasing. We have seen GCC interest for Peru and Brazil grow in recent years, and Mexico is expected to increase following the launch of Emirates direct flights to Mexico City.

Direct and easy flight connectivity is still a big driver for the Arab traveller when choosing their travel destinations, however with the increase in private jet charters across the region, this is allowing for differentiated destinations that do not yet benefit from direct flights such as Las Vegas and Panama City.

Japan also continues to rise in popularity, gaining momentum around 2017 and 2018, this is expected to grow due to the publicity surround the Olympics in 2020, as well as the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) recently signing a deal with Emirates to jointly promote Japan as a destination of choice for travellers from the region who are seeking authentic and unique experiences. Emirates currently has three entry points to Japan from Dubai, and with marketing efforts increasing when the JNTO opens an office in the UAE in 2020; Japan will become increasingly attractive for the Arab traveller.



Being able to express religious identity with access to places of worship and halal cuisine continue to entice travellers from the region, as well as countries where there is a strong cultural resonance. Destinations such as Turkey and the Mediterranean, which are in relatively close proximity with good flight connections are strong draws for GCC travellers, enticing with rich history, natural landscapes and cultural familiarity. Northern Europe has also made efforts in increasing religious spaces and halal offerings, which are attracting clients from the region to experience unique locations and different sceneries in cities such as Oslo and Copenhagen.



We are seeing an emerging trend in young Arab travellers looking to explore the world on their own as solo travel gains traction. We have seen this in countries such as Thailand where the popularity of the beaches and bustling city of Bangkok draw travellers in search of natural beauty and a thriving nightlife have encouraged young travellers to move away from family travel and seek adventure on their own for the first time, hoping to grow personally as well as have the experience of a ‘gap year’ that is common in countries such as the UK.

Destinations further afield such as Peru are also starting to attract this new type of client, looking for adventure travel in luxury whilst exploring off-the-beaten-path experiences.



A new emerging trend we are also starting to see is the travel for self-discovery and to explore old destinations with a new lens. The emergence of affluent clients wanting to explore their homeland for their first travel is interesting.

We have seen clients wanting to spend several months exploring their own countries history, culture, art, architecture and cuisine with an array of highly educated experts outside of the travel realm. By embarking on these quests, travellers are hoping to not only discover more about themselves or address personality traits they are not too fond of, but are wanting to come away with a fresh perspective of a country they have spent their whole life in, a renewed sense of pride, and to appreciate what their country has to offer other travellers looking to arrive.