ITB World Travel Trends Report: Middle East is fastest-growing outbound travel market

A recent ITB World Travel Trends Report found that the Middle East is the world’s fastest-growing outbound travel market, with young well-off Arabian travellers embarking on long expensive trips.

In fact, the Middle East outbound travel market witnessed a nine per cent increase in outbound trips over the first eight months of this year, according to preliminary World Travel Monitor results from IPK International.

The ITB World Travel Trends Report is produced by tourism consultancy IPK International on behalf of ITB Berlin.

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Besides Saudi Arabia, the UAE is the most attractive outbound market in the region and both are characterised by high spending and long trips. There is a very high proportion of high-earners going on international trips and a high (around 50 per cent) share of younger international travellers under the age of 34, according to World Travel Monitor figures.

Furthermore, close to one third of trips are made with children. Over 30 per cent of outbound trips from the region were taken by immigrants with residence and work licences in the Middle East, mostly travelling abroad to visit friends and relatives.

In 2014, about two thirds of outbound trips by Emiratis were for holiday purposes with a wide range of holiday types, ranging from tours and city trips to private events such as honeymoons and health-focused trips, according to World Travel Monitor figures. Emirates-based travellers enjoy escaping the summer heat and mostly go on international trips in the summer months (almost 60 per cent) compared to about 40 per cent in the winter season.

They also tend to go on long trips, with an average trip lasting 14 nights, and almost 30 per cent of them lasting 16 nights or more. UAE travellers also spend while on holiday, with the average spending per person per night at about $217. The average cost of a trip per person therefore totalled around $3000, according to World Travel Monitor figures.

Many UAE residents have about 30-40 days a year available for holidays and often go on two or three trips a year, including one major international trip outside the region.

Partner, IPK International Middle East, Ramzi Maaytah said: “The outbound travel market is driven by factors such as culture, entertainment, accessibility and the desire to visit cities.”

With a high proportion of young couples, families and also more women travelling from the region, entertainment, shopping and other leisure activities are popular destination activities.

Furthermore, wealthy MENA travellers are taking trips for health-related reasons accompanied by a large number of family members.

Maaytah added: “There is also an interesting trend for people to visit long-haul destinations offering Islamic hospitality, such as Malaysia and Indonesia.”

Senior vice president/director Travel & Logistics, ITB Berlin, Messe Berlin, Martin Buck commented: “The Middle East outbound market is developing into a lucrative niche market, especially for European destinations which can offer the right kind of products and services that high-spending Arabian travellers are seeking. There is plenty of growth potential for this market in the coming years.”