Dubai: Ahead of a long public holiday in the UAE, travel companies are reporting a spike in bookings, with Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Jordan topping the list of travel destinations.
With employees in the public sector having the whole week off and those in the private sector having three to four days off, travel agents said that UAE residents are opting for overseas getaways rather than the usual staycations.
Travel firms said that Egypt ranked first overall amoung UAE travellers this Eid, while India, Thailand, and the Philippines reigned supreme among those looking for Asian holidays.
Mamoum Hmedan, managing director for the Middle East, North Africa, and India at Wego, the travel search engine, said that Egypt was followed by Saudi Arabia, India, Turkey, Jordan, Indonesia, and Thailand in terms of popular destinations.
We have also noticed a significant increase in family travel, which has increased by 45 per cent during the Eid break, while the number of bookings made by couples grew by 36 per cent.
“When it comes to trip duration, 40 per cent of travellers looked for shorter trips of less than three days, and 60 per cent looked for trips exceeding four days,” he said.
Hmedan also told Gulf News that over 64 per cent of travellers tend to search for their flights and hotel stays using smartphones — a trend that is only expected to grow in the next years.
“In the last years, the travel industry has seen a massive shift in online booking. Digital plays a big role in travel planning, from inspirational content all the way to bookings,” he said, adding that UAE travellers are becoming more confident in using their smartphones to book holidays.
Figures from Mena Research Partners suggest that online travel will grow by around 20 per cent every year for the next five years in the Gulf region, driven by high internet penetration rates and tech-savvy consumers.
A report from the company earlier this year said that the online travel market in the region is expected to reach a value of $15 billion by 2023, and described the segment as “untapped” in comparison to other parts of the world.
Research from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry support that, too, projecting faster growth for intermediate travel booking companies as travellers increasingly turn to online platforms to book holidays.
When it comes to trip duration, 40 per cent of travellers looked for shorter trips of less than three days, and 60 per cent looked for trips exceeding four days.
And it’s not just booking platforms that are changing.
“One of the noticeable trends we are seeing is the change in travellers’ behaviour where they are more into new destinations and adventurous types of trips,” said Wego’s Hmedan.
“We are also seeing travellers doing more trips with shorter periods throughout the year, benefiting from the growing network of destinations of regional airlines and the increase of low-cost carriers in the region.”
Similarly, Cleartrip, the online travel platform, said it recorded “significant increases in traffic” this Eid to Amman and Kathmandu. Other popular cities were Manila, Beirut, Istanbul, Jeddah, and Cairo.
Sameer Bagul, executive vice president and managing director of Cleartrip Middle East, said that the company saw bookings jump by 26 per cent across the region after the announcement of the holiday dates.
“This year, thanks to the longer holiday period, Cleartrip has witnessed a 204 per cent increase in bookings for 4-13 day trips, as compared with the previous month,” he said.
“We have also noticed a significant increase in family travel, which has increased by 45 per cent during the Eid break, while the number of bookings made by couples grew by 36 per cent.”
Eid Al Fitr holidays will start on June 2 for the employees in the public sector, and on June 3 for private sector employees. The holiday marks the end of fasting in Ramadan, and typically sees a spike in travel bookings.
Travel agents said that ticket fares for travel from the UAE went up by 20 per cent when the dates of the holiday were announced, and were expected to keep rising as demand continues.