Stock Dubai airport 2021
Yes, travellers want to return to the skies, but they want airlines give their mental well-being as much thought. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: More travellers in the UAE (76 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (80 per cent) place as much emphasis on their mental wellbeing when they fly out now.

Despite pent up demand, a majority of travellers (62 per cent in the UAE and 67 per cent in KSA) think travel post-pandemic will be more stressful in the current climate. When asked what travel brands could do to help the situation, 38 per cent of travellers said they would value incentives from providers that prioritise their mental wellbeing, according to a survey by Collinson, the travel services firm.

Travellers also highlighted additional services that they would be willing to pay for to improve their wellbeing at the airport. These included spaces such lounge access - 37 per cent said they would pay for this in Saudi Arabia while 30 per cent of UAE respondents would pay for a quiet place to sit and relax. And 18 per cent in the UAE and 28 per cent in the Kingdom would pay extra for access to airport sleep pods.

“In the context of travel during COVID-19, it’s often the conversation around physical wellbeing that has dominated," said Priyanka Lakhani, Director South Asia and Commercial Director Middle East and Africa at Collinson. "So, it’s very insightful to understand more about the importance passengers in the region place on the emotional and mental wellbeing aspects of their journey.”

The findings show that passengers are of course looking for visible health and hygiene measures once they begin travelling again, including hand sanitisers throughout the airports (85 per cent in the UAE and 88 per cent in Saudi Arabia) and temperature check at the airport (80 and 85 per cent, respectively).

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Quarantine concerns

When asked why they might be hesitant to travel in light of COVID-19, the top reason - given amongst 54 per cent of travellers in the UAE and 40 per cent of travellers in Saudi Arabia was the worry around needing to quarantine either on arrival or return.

This could be why an average of 83 per cent passengers in both countries placed importance on testing on departure as a crucial element to their overall travel experience. Around 84 per cent also placed high importance on being tested on arrival, indicating COVID-19 testing has now crossed the line from being a government or airline pre-requisite for travel to some destinations, to something that people also want to see at their destination to give them added confidence to take to the skies once more.