The experts at ForwardKeys have been invited to present at the Gulf Travel Show, a virtual event organised by TravTalk on March 31 – April 1. Here are some teasers ahead of the presentation today. 

The Big Picture of the Middle East

“The Middle East is performing slightly better than the world average, with issued tickets 77% behind, against 82% behind worldwide. This is better than in the Asia Pacific and Europe, but not quite as good as in the Americas and Africa,” says Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights at ForwardKeys.

The top 5 destinations in volumes of tickets in Q1 have been the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain. But when looking at the level of reactivation of travel, we can see that Egypt and Qatar top the list.

Resilient Egypt & Qatar

“The case of Egypt is really interesting because it illustrates the importance of travel corridors and bilateral cooperation. We can see this very clearly when looking at travel flows from Russia to Egypt,” says Ponti.

In January, a travel corridor between the two countries was opened and led to a strong rebound of travel to Egypt, to the point that the volume of issued tickets for a trip to this country in the first half of 2021 is 156% higher than in 2019! Indeed, in this case not only is travel recovery taking place but also growth, all during a global crisis.

Top destinations for Russian visitors in Egypt are Cairo, Sharm el-sheik, and Hurghada. A nice mix of culture and sun and sea tourism.

With the end of the diplomatic blockade, Qatar has been able to develop new connections and rebuild its regional position. As we can see on this chart, 38% of air capacity in Q1 2021 was due to new routes with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt.

This renewed connectivity has helped Doha take over Dubai as the leading hub for transfers in the region. In the first half of 2021, Doha accounts for 32% of transfers and 1-night stays in the region, against 30% for Dubai.

As this chart illustrates, Doha’s market share has significantly improved compared with 2019, while Dubai’s has been reduced.

“Doha’s increased seat capacity combined with the improved regional relations and the air connectivity between Africa and Europe has greatly helped it move up the ranks in terms of an important airport hub against heavyweight airports in Dubai and Singapore,” adds Ponti.

What’s next for the Gulf Region?

All this data demonstrates that destinations in the Middle East and the Gulf Region have some interesting cards in their hands to help travel rebound. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and even though “we are not quite there yet, we are getting closer to it, every day.”

Travel operators, airlines, and tourism boards in the region need to think out of the box. Explore new potential markets and readjust plans as changes take shape in the travel landscape. And for this, “fresh, forward-looking data is essential because historical data has become pretty much useless.”

Join ForwardKeys’ VP of Insights and sales team at the Gulf Travel Show to learn more about the current trends in the Middle-East and India.


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