Almosafer, the KSA’s omni-channel travel brand, recently conducted a survey that has shed light on Saudi nationals’ hunger for travel.
An impressive 73 per cent of survey respondents shared that they are confident to travel with restrictions partially lifted, while 35 per cent of Saudi’s revealed that they are keen to discover the growing cultural, adventure and entertainment offering in their home country, and would opt for a staycation in the Kingdom post COVID-19.
Makkah and Jeddah were the top destinations for domestic travel, with other metropolitan cities such as Riyadh and Dammam amongst the top choices, and more experiential destinations such as AlUla, Taif and Abha climbing the ranks. The results in terms of domestic travel are consistent with searches across Almosafer’s app and web channels. An 83 per cent increase in domestic searches was recorded in May.
Domestic travel was only topped slightly by the wider GCC, with 38 per cent of Saudis indicating their first venture out of the KSA will be to its neighbouring countries. As for destinations further afield, 38 per cent also chose Asia for a potential first trip post pandemic. Travelling with family was preferred by 50 per cent of Saudi nationals, followed by 29 per cent who said they would go in smaller groups of friends to adhere to the social distancing concept.
With regards to transport, Saudis’ preferences included journeys by car (48 per cent) or short haul flights (40 per cent), with religious tourism of the highest priority in terms of travel purpose (42 per cent). As Makkah was closed during Ramadan due to the pandemic, bookings are expected to rise quickly among the domestic market upon the city’s opening.
According to the survey, 58 per cent of Saudi travellers would opt for trips shorter than a week, but overall, there is a large appetite for trips that exceed the duration of a weekend getaway, with 42 per cent of respondents planning to travel for longer than a week.
Most of the respondents questioned (60 per cent) mentioned that social distancing and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) rules would be crucial to making a travel decision, while clarity on safety measures taken by airlines and hotels is also considered critical for 55 per cent of travellers. The survey also revealed that travel advice through online and offline channels will play a significant role in the new normal, as 36 per cent of Saudis seek reassurance to help fully restore travel confidence.
Executive vice president, Almosafer, Muzzammil Ahussain declared: “In the first dedicated study of Saudi sentiment in relation to post pandemic travel, it is encouraging to see the passion for travel in the Kingdom remains resilient. The interest in domestic leisure travel also provides a real opportunity to accelerate the development of tourism in the Kingdom and focus on the growing cultural, adventure and entertainment offerings waiting to be explored.”
Meanwhile, vice president of retail, Almosafer, Fahad Alobailan also noted: “We have an important role to play to help restore confidence and address industry challenges. As an omni-channel brand our focus is on providing Saudi travellers with the personalised advice and support they need at every touchpoint, to help them make informed travel decisions and feel confident wherever they are in the world.”