Destination Diaries: Dubai, City of Gold

April 7, 2015

World-class shopping, which peaks during Dubai’s Annual Shopping Festival, outstanding dining experiences and a wealth of extravagant accommodations make Dubai a special destination.

And boy, are travelers visiting! Dubai is shaping up as both a destination and a hub. In December of last year, Dubai’s International Airport was named the world’s busiest by international passenger traffic. Also, over a fifth of travelers who flew into it searched for onward flights from Dubai to other countries within two weeks. That’s a larger share of globetrotters than most international airports can boast.

Growth on the Gulf & What It Means for Dubai Tourism  

The fact that the Middle East is home to three of the world’s leading international airlines further supports its extremely fast-growing tourism sector. With Dubai winning expo 2020, Dubai will add airport capacity for more than 126M passengers. It’s also increasing its aircraft fleet by 150%. Consequently, this burgeoning city on the sea will build more than 200 new hotels. This will bring total capacity up to 160,000 rooms to meet the demands of this new wave of guests. Piece the puzzle together and you’ve got visitor numbers skyrocketing to 20M by 2020!

Additionally, online travel agency (OTA) sales in the Middle East reached a whopping $3 billion in 2014. With its young population and growing hotel market, the Middle East will open up its borders to an even more diverse set of global and domestic travelers much accredited to e-commerce sales. Here are some key things we learned about Dubai looking at our data:

Who Is Visiting Dubai? Western Europe Leads the Pack

Of those looking to fly to Dubai during the past 12 months, 50% of searches came from travelers in Western Europe. The Middle East and North America followed next.

Destination Diaries Dubai

Peak Travel Times in Dubai: December, January and August

For travelers looking to head to Dubai from Europe and North America, December was the most popular time to travel. Origination regions Middle East and South Asia peaked a month later, in January, and North African travelers flew to Dubai the most during the month of August, following Ramadan, which concluded on July 28.

Booking Lead Times: The Further the Origination, the Longer the Lead  

The majority of Dubai travelers with originations outside of the Middle East started planning their trips at least 30 days before departing.

As with most destinations, travelers who live closer to their destination city tend to book their trips more spontaneously, waiting closer to their departure date to book and pack up their clothes for the road.  In fact, less than 30% of travelers from the Middle East and Africa started looking more than a month before their departure dates, the majority opting instead to book 0-7 days before departing.

Trip Durations: All Over the Map

Over the last 12 months, more than half, 65%, of all travelers that visited the City of Gold stayed for 6 days or longer. For those faraway, such as travelers in Central America and the Caribbean, this number climbed to 86%. In contrast, ⅔ of travellers from the Middle East stayed for only 0-5 days. This is perhaps because living closer to Dubai allows them to return more easily.

Time Is Of the Essence: Our Newest Office Opens Its Doors

Speaking of big growth, Sojern just cut the ribbon to its new office in Dubai. I’m building out a team of real-time-bidding specialists to help service the growing demand for performance marketing across the region.

If you’re a travel brand based in the area and are looking to reach in-market travelers, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Sojern can help you make the most of your online marketing so you can capitalize on Dubai’s flourishing travel space.


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About Stewart Smith

Stewart Smith is leading the expansion and development of Sojern in the Middle East and Africa regions from the Dubai office, leveraging Sojern’s data and insights to establish partnerships and new revenue with the region’s leading brands, airlines, hotels, attractions and tourism players. Stewart has over 12 years of digital experience in travel and tourism at high growth and technology companies, most recently in Sojern’s London office, where he helped establish the Tourism vertical and develop the UK market. He joined Sojern from Lastminute.com where he worked for eight years developing digital media partnerships across agencies, airlines, hotels and tourist boards on both domestic and international campaigns, as well as developing numerous travel brand partnerships.

Stewart Smith About the author

Stewart Smith is leading the expansion and development of Sojern in the Middle East and Africa regions from the Dubai office, leveraging Sojern’s data and insights to establish partnerships and new revenue with the region’s leading brands, airlines, hotels, attractions and tourism players. Stewart has over 12 years of digital experience in travel and tourism at high growth and technology companies, most recently in Sojern’s London office, where he helped establish the Tourism vertical and develop the UK market. He joined Sojern from Lastminute.com where he worked for eight years developing digital media partnerships across agencies, airlines, hotels and tourist boards on both domestic and international campaigns, as well as developing numerous travel brand partnerships.