The Arabian Travel Market, the travel industry’s leading global event in the Middle East, celebrated its 25th anniversary in Dubai, with over 39,000 attendees. Sustainability was the theme of the year.
The UAE is leading the way in the region for sustainability. In 2012 they launched a Green Growth Strategy – a long-term national initiative with the aim of becoming one of the world leaders in sustainable development, as well as a centre for the export and re-export of green products and technologies. In 2017, Dubai’s Clean Energy Strategy was announced, which set a 75% target for clean energy by 2050. The Dubai Expo 2020 is pursuing the ISO 20121 certification for sustainable event management and The Dubai Sustainable Tourism initiative aspires to position Dubai as one of the world’s most sustainable tourism destinations, by encouraging sustainable practices within the environment, economic and social areas.
Richer countries in the region have acknowledged that long-term development lies beyond oil revenue, and securing a sustainable approach to their other existing business is crucial, for example the travel industry, which is shifting away from an exclusive focus on the luxury market. Booking.com 2017 Sustainable Tourism report highlighted that 79 per cent of travelers considered sustainability when choosing their mode of transport.
The prospects are good. Travel and tourism is expected to continue to grow in the Middle East. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s 2017 figures, the Middle East (whose travel and tourism grew 5 per cent) received 58 million international tourists, with sustained growth in some destinations and a strong recovery in others. For 2018, tourism is expected to grow by four to six per cent. In this sense, expenditure on outbound travel from the Middle East is expected to reach $165.3 billion by 2025, according to The World Travel & Tourism Council. It seems the secret of success is to continue to cater for travelers’ needs and expectations.
A recent report by Wego’s travel experts, based on the analysis of data collated from 10 million visits per month across their websites and mobile app, outlined some of the top trends influencing travel decisions in the Middle East. These are some of them, ranging from eco-friendly destinations to cultural explorations:
- Eco tourism – Many travelers prefer eco-friendly, green and ethical practices in their trips, with eco-tourism being a growing segment;
- Glamping – More travelers prefer to visit unique places where nature meets luxury, such as the Indian desert or even the African jungle where they can enjoy a glass of champagne while listening to the lions roar;
- Off-the-beaten-track destinations – It is a growing trend to explore new destinations like the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador or Slovenia, instead of traditional destinations such as Paris, New York or London;
- Cultural exploration – History, culture and traditions are attracting many visitors eager to gain new knowledge from museums and historical sites;
- Foodie trips – Culinary tours are growing in popularity. The World Food Travel Association estimates that 75 per cent of leisure travelers visit destinations because of local food-based activities.
At the Arabian Travel Market, to help identify and anticipate passenger needs, Amadeus will release the findings of a research paper looking at MENA traveler habits.
This study, co-sponsored by Amadeus, is the first ever regional study that explores, in a scientific way, these travelers’ preferences for purchasing travel products and services.
Stay tuned for more details shortly!