Middle East is the fastest growing outbound travel market, says ITB

Middle Eastern AirportThe Middle East is the world’s fastest-growing outbound travel market, with young well-off Arabian travellers going on long expensive trips, the ITB World Travel Trends Report finds.

The Arabian outbound travel market is growing into a lucrative niche business as well-off travellers venture more beyond their home region and spend heavily on up-market accommodation, shopping and entertainment. The Middle East outbound travel market was actually the world’s fastest-growing market this year with a 9 per cent increase in outbound trips over the first eight months of this year, according to preliminary World Travel Monitor® results from IPK International.

Beside Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the most attractive outbound market in the region and both are characterised by high spending and long trips. There is a very high proportion of high-earners going on international trips and a high (about 50 per cent) share of younger international travellers under the age of 34, according to World Travel Monitor® figures.

Health-related travel is also a notable trend with well-off Arabs often going on long trips for medical purposes, accompanied by a large number of family members. In addition, Arabian tourists often book serviced apartments, for example, where a maid does the cooking and cleaning. “There is also an interesting trend for people to visit long-haul destinations offering Islamic hospitality, such as Malaysia and Indonesia,” Ramzi Maaytah, Partner of IPK International Middle East.

The Maldives has been seeing an increasing number of Middle Eastern travellers over the years. Between January to October this year, the country saw over 35,000 visitors from the region, making up 3.5 per cent of the country’s total tourists. Despite a fall in visitors from Kuwait and Qatar this year, visitors from the Middle East increased in the January to October period by 10 per cent compared to the same period last year.