According to the 2018 Travel Insights Report released by Cleartrip and Flyin, the GCC region witnessed unprecedented growth in mobile transactions last year.
An impressive 110 per cent jump in mobile bookings was recorded by this specific market, representing one-third of all transactions.
The recently released 2018 Travel Insights Report provides an in-depth overview of the online travel sector in the GCC and highlights shifts in market dynamics and consumer behaviour. The report uncovers variations in average airfares and traveller preferences regarding destinations, trip duration and payment methods, while key findings include the sustained expansion of the industry, the rising trend of mobile traffic in major cities and the growing popularity of travel coupons among travellers.
Executive vice president and managing director, Cleartrip Middle East, Sameer Bagul declared: “With advancements in mobile technology making travel more accessible to the region’s growing population, the online travel industry is headed for a new phase of growth. As reflected in our study, travellers’ preferences are constantly changing, and therefore it has become imperative for online travel agents to make investments into newer technologies, such as machine learning and utilising blockchain capabilities to drive bespoke personalisation and superior user experience. When we launched our mobile Progressive Web App (PWA) in 2018 our conversion rates increased by 67 per cent as we continue to help consumers seamlessly make their travel bookings.”
While the credit card maintains its position as the dominant payment method in the online travel world, debit card transactions are on the rise. In Saudi Arabia, travel bookings using debit cards surged 280 per cent year-on-year, accounting for 45 per cent of all bookings, while in the UAE credit card transactions dipped to 72 per cent from 81 per cent in the previous year, and debit card usage increased from 19 per cent to 28 per cent.
Mobile transactions are quickly gaining traction among travellers, with Saudi Arabia having the highest rate of Mobile Booking Penetration (MBP) in the region. The country’s mobile bookings accounted for 38 per cent, with a massive rise of 233 per cent on the previous year. The number of transactions made on mobile devices increased by 56 per cent in the UAE and 34 per cent in Oman.
Mobile has become a popular channel for travel planning and booking in major cities in the region. Kuwait City and Riyadh had the highest rates of mobile traffic and bookings at 81 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. Bahrain, Muscat and Dubai were also among the leading markets for mobile visitors in the 2018 Travel Insights Report.
Moving on, according to the report regional travellers made trips to a wide variety of destinations within the GCC and overseas last year. Islamabad, Lahore and Brussels topped the list of trending international destinations for travellers in the UAE, while domestic travellers in Saudi Arabia favoured Gizan, Abha and Ha’il. Istanbul remained among the leading family travel destinations during both summer and winter seasons.
Finally, a result of lower airfares, increased connectivity and fewer travel barriers, the GCC continues to witness an increase in the number of travellers. The industry posted a robust year-on-year growth of per cent last year, while Saudi Arabia emerged as the fastest growing market, with a solid 10 per cent increase in 2018.