Visitors stay longer in Middle East, reveals travel report
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Staycations rise, visitors staying longer in Middle East, reveals travel report

Staycations rise, visitors staying longer in Middle East, reveals travel report

The emphasis on regional travel, unique experiences and budget-friendly options like cruises are set to shape the future of tourism in 2024 and beyond

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Staycations rise, visitors staying longer in Middle East, reveals travel report

Consumer spending and passenger traffic are hitting record highs in 2024, fuelled by a pent-up desire for exploration, revealed a new report by Mastercard.

The Travel Trends 2024: Breaking Boundaries report revealed that nine out of the 10 highest spending days ever recorded in the global cruise and airline industries occurred in 2024, highlighting a robust travel sector.

The report showed that travellers from the region are opting for staycations, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco experiencing significant tourism growth.

Visitors are also extending their trips by an average of three days compared to pre-pandemic levels,  revealed the report.

This shift reflects a growing preference for staycations and regional travel, driven by the ease and cultural experiences associated with these destinations.

Commenting on the findings, Natalia Lechmanova, chief economist EEMEA at Mastercard Economics Institute: “The Middle East travel sector is thriving, driven by strong consumer demand and a desire for local exploration. Extended stays are a positive sign for tourism and local economies.”

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

Other key travel trends in the region

According to the report, consumers are prioritising “unique” experiences over material goods. Spending on experiences, such as local dining and events, now accounts for 12 per cent of total tourism sales – the highest level in five years.

In the UAE, tourism spending on casual dining is roughly 21 per cent higher than the same time last year.

Cruises are emerging as a budget-friendly alternative to hotels, with global passenger transactions exceeding 2019 levels by 16 per cent in Q1 2024.

The Middle East is also joining the cruise wave with the formation of the Cruise Arabia alliance.

Japan and the UAE have emerged as top global destinations, while Munich takes the summer crown due to the European Championship.

For travellers from Saudi Arabia, the top three trending destinations for summer are Cairo, Rome and Cape Town, while for travellers from the UAE, London, Athens and Paris were the most popular spots.

An interesting finding

Memorable events are seen to be significantly influencing travel trends, drawing crowds for concerts such as Taylor Swift’s shows and major sporting events like the Cricket World Cup. A standout example is the upcoming total eclipse over the pyramids in Egypt in 2027, which is expected to attract global attention.

Analysis by the Mastercard Economics Institute of this year’s solar eclipse in the US found a substantial lift in sales in areas within the path of totality, indicating the strong economic impact of such celestial events.

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