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, latest research has found.
According to travel technology firm Amadeus, the rate of visitor flows to the region is far higher than the 5.4 per cent per annum growth forecasted globally.
The report also forecasts that outbound travel spend for the Middle East and Africa is expected to grow 7.6 per cent over the next decade. The figures are far ahead of the travel spend predicted in Europe and Americas but behind those in Asia (17.9 per cent).
But the travel technology firm estimates that the Gulf region is set to benefit from the high rate of outbound spend by the Asian travellers due its geographical position and the ambitious growth plans of Gulf airlines.
Middle East airports are also recording high levels of long haul passenger traffic and successfully establishing themselves as hubs.
The number of transfer passengers flying through Middle East hubs rose by 79 per cent over the last five years, the report said.
“These statements may not come as a surprise to many but it is the relative scale of growth that is so impressive,” said Antoine Medawar, vice president, MENA, Amadeus.
“Point to point traffic may be growing, but at the same time, airports are competing to be regional hubs. Hub airports in the Middle East have profited from their strategic location between Asia, Africa, and Europe in attracting long-haul transfer passengers, with Dubai airport leading the pack and bold leadership to invest in airport infrastructure and fleets.”
Amadeus also noted that the role of social media in the travel industry will rise in the region.
“The under-15 population in the region, which represents approximately 21 per cent of the total, with numbers in some countries such as Saudi Arabia going as high as 30 per cent, has been highlighted as a prominent influencer in the future of travel in the region,” said Medawar.
The report added that as this demographic matures, it will bring in a new generation called “first time” or “coming of age” travellers to shape the global travel industry.
Medawar said that that their travel related behavior will be heavily influenced by social media and technology as they look for new travel experiences.
Social media giant Facebook also recently said that people’s travel plans are increasingly being shaped by the activity of friends and family on the networking site.
According to a study conducted by Facebook among its top 20 per cent of active users, travel is one of the most discussed topics on the site.
Around 84 per cent of respondents said that friends’ and family’s holidays inspire them while 64 per cent state that without Facebook they would not be aware of where friends and family had gone on holiday.