MENA region leads global growth in luxury travel: report
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MENA region leads global growth in luxury travel: Mastercard

MENA region leads global growth in luxury travel: Mastercard

According to a Mastercard report, Kuwaiti tourists spend an average of $3,390 per card in Paris, five times as much as their American counterparts

Gulf Business
MENA region leads global growth in luxury travel, reveals report

According to a new report, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is driving growth in affluent travel, characterised by high spends and a growing affinity for sustainable eco-luxury and cultural immersion.

Mastercard’s latest report, Affluent Travel: A Middle East Perspective, unveiled at the Arabian Travel Market 2024, sheds light on the key trends shaping the luxury travel landscape.

Overall, the report revealed a growing appetite for new experiences in unexplored destinations, micro-trips and ‘bleisure’.

These trends will likely enable the rise of the global luxury travel market, which is expected to grow by 7.9 per cent (CAGR) between 2024 and 2030 (based on stats from Grand View Research).

The report alludes to Jones Lang LaSalle’s study, which underscores the significant contribution of affluent travellers, who account for approximately 36 per cent of the global spend on travel.

Key trends: Luxury travellers

The report highlighted YouGov research that showed that over a third of luxury travellers seek to explore different cultures, while bleisure trips, combining business and leisure, were rising. Research also indicates a growing trend towards solo travel, reflecting a shift in consumer behaviour.

The report shared that affluent consumers exhibit a penchant for eco-luxury experiences, emphasising authenticity and sustainability. These travellers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable travel features, reflecting a conscious effort to minimise carbon footprints and support local communities. Globally, one in 10 consumers have stayed in luxury eco-friendly accommodation in the last three years, compared to five of 10 among 18–34-year-old affluents.

According to Euromonitor, 38 per cent of luxury seekers are willing to pay between 30 per cent and 50 per cent more for sustainable travel features such as energy-efficient services. A quarter would pay even more to find less carbon-intensive transport.

The report also showcased Marriott Bonvoy research that revealed a preference for secluded accommodations, private island stays, and unique gourmet experiences, underscoring the demand for exclusivity and pampering.

GCC travellers have also emerged as high spenders (based on the average spend per card by origin market) in global luxury markets, leveraging loyalty schemes and membership perks.

According to a 2023 Mastercard Economics Institute report, Kuwaiti tourists, for instance, spend an average of $3,390 per card in Paris, five times as much as their American counterparts.

Exclusive airport lounges and priority services are among the most utilised benefits, highlighting the value placed on personalised service and convenience.

MENA region’s resilience has led to growth

As wealth transitions to younger generations, Millennials and Gen Z have emerged as key segments in luxury travel.

Gen X, particularly in the GCC, is poised to drive travel growth, contributing to MENA region’s resilience in surpassing pre-pandemic arrival figures.

While much of the world is still catching up to pre-pandemic travel levels, the MENA region is also the only region to show airport arrivals at 22 per cent above 2019 numbers.

The report shared that according to the World Tourism Barometer, specific destinations such as Qatar (over 90 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (over 56 per cent) have contributed to this surge.

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