Tech-Savvy Users To Drive Growth In GCC’s Travel Industry- Study

The ‘coming-of-age’ population will turn to mobile travel solutions and will plan, book and manage their options online, a study says.

By
Mary Sophia
June 8, 2014

The growth in GCC’s travel industry will be driven by the ‘coming-of-age’ population, which comprises tech-savvy users who demand round the clock high-speed connectivity, new research has found.

According to a study by travel technology firm Amadeus, these young users will turn to mobile internet for travel solutions and will plan, book and manage their options within the cyberspace. This might in turn require travel service providers to offer enhanced connectivity.

“Travel agencies should be aware that the current trend is not going to slow down any time soon – the penetration of technology is only going to gather momentum,” said Omar Al Hudaif, CEO, Al Fursan Travel.

“They need to focus on increasing their value proposition by incorporating cutting edge technologies.”

Mohammed Abdulmajeed, vice president sales strategies, Saudi Arabian Airlines emphasised that it is imperative for airlines and travel agencies to invest in technology that facilitate self-servicing. But he said that technology firms should address some challenges plaguing the shift to digital.

“Technology solutions providers such as Amadeus should also focus on fraud prevention. At the moment, there is a compelling need to secure payment gateways if we are to help travellers utilise online options optimally,” he added.

However technology is not the only driver of the Gulf’s travel industry, the report showed.

According to Amadeus, some of the other trends that might affect the travel sector are rising population, diversification of the economies from traditional oil revenues, increased investment in infrastructure and the region being a gateway to other parts of the world.

“Unfolding of demographic forces such as steady inflow of expatriate workers, robust natural population growth and a growing middle class will facilitate a new and divergent set of traveller behaviours and needs that significantly impact the region’s travel trends,” said Antoine Medawar, vice president, MENA, Amadeus IT Group.

“Investment in infrastructure, new tourism sectors, and governmental initiatives to ease intra- and extra-regional movement will make the GCC more attractive to leisure and business travellers.

“Travel providers who address the nuanced needs of the region’s population are likely to thrive in the coming decades.”

The report indicated that improved access within the region will also drive tourism. Currently around 33 per cent of the respondents surveyed cited visa requirements as an obstacle for frequent travel in the region.

“Improved accessibility within the region and abroad is expected to increase the number of intra-regional travellers to four-fold by 2030,” the report said.

An earlier study by Amadeus predicted that the number of visitors to the Middle East and Africa region is expected to grow at an annual rate of 11.4 per cent over the next 10 years compared to an 8.4 per cent growth in the previous decade.

The rate of current visitor flows to the region was also found to be far higher than the 5.4 per cent per annum growth forecasted globally, the report said.

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