Middle East Leads the Charge on 2023 Global Travel Recovery

Travel demand in many MEA countries is up compared to pre-pandemic levels.

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March 3, 2023

*THIS DATA WAS PULLED February 9 2023

The Middle East continues to build on their strong 2022. Relatively quick bouncebacks from COVID-19 in the UAE and intentional investment into tourism from the likes of Saudi Arabia, indicate this success will continue well into 2023. According to Sojern’s latest data, 2023 shows travel demand in many MEA countries is up compared to pre-pandemic levels. 

Demand for Hotels Up on 2019 Levels in Many Middle Eastern Countries

Several recent reports note that Middle Eastern destinations are leading global travel recovery, boosted by Dubai’s 2020 Expo and most recently, last year’s FIFA World Cup. When we look at our data, we see that 2023 interest from most origins to the region is high, even above January 2019 levels. 

The UAE saw a strong return of travellers from many markets, even in 2022, and had one of the quickest recoveries after COVID-19. Demand continues to grow from Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin American markets. One of the most marked increases in demand is for Saudi Arabia, showing that their ambitions to draw 100 million visitors annually by the end of the decade appear to be off to a strong start. Finally, Qatar continues to ride high coming off of the World Cup, and interest to visit seems sustained by our recent data. In particular, they have great traction from Latin America. 

Origins to Top MEA Destinations: Lodging Search Events, % change vs 2019

Travel Marketing Tip: The good news? Travel intent to MEA as a region is strong. The bad news? There are many destinations competing for that ultimate booking. Video remains one of the strongest channels to highlight what makes your particular destination special. And there are increasingly exciting ways to showcase your video assets, including through Connected TV.

Travellers to Middle East Seek Shorter Stays Compared to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Across the board, we see that travellers are less likely to stay 2+ weeks in the same hotel in 2023 vs. 2019. With global travel restrictions now lifted, it is possible that travellers are seeking to plan multiple short stays in a single trip. Given the availability of intraregional flights with low-cost carriers in the region, travellers may prefer doing a few days each in several Middle Eastern countries. 

A higher portion of travellers are considering stays of just one day, especially in Qatar. Travellers may be looking to stay one day in Qatar, perhaps adding it to their itinerary because of World Cup clout. We also know that many travellers use the Middle East as a stopover when they fly between Asia Pacific and Europe. Qatar Airways also offers stopover packages, where travellers can stay in Qatar before heading off to their final destination to visit two destinations in one trip. 

 

Length of Stay from all Origins to Top MEA Destinations, Hotel Searches

Travel Marketing Tip: Regardless of a guest’s length of stay, direct bookings are the best for business. One of the best ways to protect your brand while maximising direct bookings is with Search Engine Marketing (SEM). With SEM, you can ensure your hotel’s direct website appears in the top results in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), so guests will book directly with you rather than with OTAs.

US Travellers Remain a Key Market for Middle Eastern Countries

US travellers to the MEA region are high value, with over 75% staying for more than eight days. Compared to other long-haul destinations in Asia, US travellers are also more willing to stay for over one week. A tourist staying for more than one week will certainly spend more money in the local economy compared to one staying a day or two. Many countries, including Saudi Arabia, have made tourist visas relatively easy to obtain, while others like Oman, have scrapped many tourist visas altogether to attract more valuable visitors.

US Travellers Length of Stay to Various Regions

Travel Marketing Tip: Understanding these preferred length of stay trends can help form the basis of market-level offers or promotions. If you are a hotelier looking to attract valuable American guests, perhaps include automatic upgrades for stays of eight days or more in your ad creative.

Whether you’re a hotelier, a destination marketer, or an attraction operator—using travel insights are key to maximising results. Get in touch to see how we can help you make the most of your next marketing campaign

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