Local tourism and domestic travel will be vital to the UAE’s and wider GCC’s recovery from COVID-19, according to research released ahead of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Virtual – a newly-launched three-day event that will take place from June 1-3, 2020.
Colliers International, in partnership with ATM, revealed the percentage of bookings to Abu Dhabi within a 48km radius increased from just 20 per cent in January 2020 to 43 per cent in March. While, in Dubai, the percentage jumped from 19 per cent to 36 per cent.
Meanwhile, research by Sojern suggests that staycations are expected to become the most popular choice of travel in the short to medium-term, with data revealing hotel bookings to Abu Dhabi within a 48km radius accounted for 77 per cent of all bookings in April and domestic travel from Dubai accounting for 91 per cent of searches and bookings within the same radius.
Taking place on June 1 from 13:30 until 14:30, ‘The Hotel Landscape in a Post-COVID-19 World’ session will home in on the hospitality industry, exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the Middle East’s hotel sector, while also outlining what the landscape is likely to look like when travel resumes and what will be considered new ‘norms’.
Confirmed session panellists will include senior area vice president – Middle East & Africa, Radisson Hotel Group, Tim Cordon and head of hotels, Colliers International, Middle East & North Africa, Christopher Lund.
Exhibition director ME, Arabian Travel Market, Danielle Curtis declared: “The global COVID-19 health crisis severely impacted worldwide travel, tourism, events, and leisure activities, with many people being forced to cancel or postpone their travel plans in the first half of 2020. However, what we are now beginning to see is a sense of pent up demand due to an eagerness among the larger populace to make up for lost time and cancelled plans.
“Travellers still want to go on holiday, but safety has become a top priority. As a result, the staycation trend is expected to grow in the coming months, with residents keen to take a break away from their home for a few days in a location that is familiar to them, whilst flights are grounded, and international travel restrictions still in place,” Curtis added.
According to Colliers’ research, families and solo travellers are expected to be among the first market segments to start travelling, while Millennials and Gen Z are being touted as the most eager to travel.
In preparation for the travel and tourism recovery, hospitality companies must provide future guests with peace of mind by implementing and virtually showcasing the stringent hygiene and deep cleaning procedures at their properties. Adding to this, immersive technologies must also be implemented to provide potential guests with virtual 3D tours of properties and their facilities, as well as customised online booking experiences.
“As travel and tourism begins to return, it is crucial that hotels add value to their existing offerings with incentives such as F&B discounts for in-house guests, free upgrades and booking flexibility that enables free cancellation if personal circumstances were to change, as well as reinvented loyalty programmes with increased offers and points in an attempt to stimulate demand through their existing customer bases,” Curtis said.
ATM Virtual will feature an informative series of hospitality-focused roundtables, including ‘Changing the face of hotels in terms of design and sanitisation’, investigating how hotels can effectively integrate hygiene and new stringent cleaning protocols into key brand messaging; ‘Changing face of F&B travel’, addressing the effects of COVID-19 on food-driven travel in the region and across the world; ‘The Changing Face of Luxury Family Travel’, discussing how personal space and peace of mind has become paramount; plus much more.
Curtis concluded: “As well as addressing the impact the global health pandemic has had on the hospitality industry, ATM Virtual, will discuss in-depth a road map to recovery for the wider travel and tourism industry, identifying the trends and opportunities that are likely to shape the future as well as the ‘new normal’ that lies ahead.”