Middle East spend on leisure travel to exceed pre-COVID levels by 10% in 2024

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According to a recent YouGov survey, commissioned by Reed Exhibitions, the organiser of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2021, the amount of money that Middle East travellers spend on international leisure travel, will begin to exceed 2019 pre-COVID levels, in as little as three years. This is supported by forecast analysis carried out by Tourism Economics (TE).

“This is very encouraging,” said Danielle Curtis, exhibition director of ME in ATM, which will take place in-person at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) on 16-19 May 2021.

“In 2019, spending on international leisure travel in the Middle East was significant, representing 47% of the total overall travel spend, compared with 37% spent on domestic leisure travel and 8% each on international and domestic business travel. In 2020, spending on international leisure travel was only 20% of the amount spent a year earlier. However, this year, spending compared with 2019, will recover to around 50%. It will increase to 75% in 2022 and 95% in 2023, until 2024, when spending in this segment will exceed pre-COVID levels by up to 10%,” added Curtis.

According to research by TE and its parent company Oxford Economics, the vaccine rollout, pent up demand supported by high consumer savings, employment recovery and travel restrictions, will motivate the return to global economic growth of 5.6% this year, the fastest economic recovery in 40 years. The total contribution of the travel and tourism industry in 2019 accounted for 10.4% of total GDP worldwide, highlighting its importance to the global economy.

In advanced economies, household savings rates have jumped from less than 10% of income prior to 2020, to a spike of 25% during lockdown, before dropping to just over 15% as restrictions were eased.

In terms of vaccine rollout, although distribution maybe uneven and therefore inhibit some destinations from welcoming tourists, many popular leisure destinations such as the UAE, US, UK, Israel, Spain and Turkey aim to have up to 70% of their populations vaccinated before the end of 2021. Other measures will be necessary and are likely to be introduced in many destinations to facilitate travel recovery, such as more widespread testing.

“Leisure travel will lead the recovery, initially through domestic and short-haul travel, which peaked by as much as 85% of all overnight arrivals in the Middle East during 2020. This will gradually return to normal over the next four years at around 70%, as international travel becomes more popular and takes greater market share,” said Curtis.

In addition to our international participation, a whole host of exhibitors from the Middle East will be participating at ATM this year, including the tourism boards from the UAE’s emirates with major exhibits from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman and Fujairah. There will also be a variety of other ME exhibitors including Emirates, Etihad Airways, Saudi Tourism Authority, Bahrain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority, SAUDIA, Jordan Tourism Board, Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board, NEOM, Emaar Hospitality Group and Jumeirah International, amongst others.