The latest data from ForwardKeys reveals that the tradition of travelling at the end of Ramadan is making a significant revival this year after a brief pandemic pause. As of 13th April, outbound flight bookings from the Middle East for travel covering the last ten days of the festival (22nd April – 2nd May) reached 64% on pre-pandemic levels, a 220% increase on travel during the equivalent period last year.

This is great news for travel retailers and brands as affluent Middle Eastern travellers have long been a vital bloodline for the success of consumer spend at global airports, much like the Chinese outbound market.

However, with China’s long-haul travel still under a very dark cloud of travel restrictions, the team at ForwardKeys would like to show that there is hope on the horizon if you focus on alternative nationalities and airports.

Top destinations for Ramadan in 2022

The stand-out destination for Middle Eastern holidaymakers keen for some Ramadan travel is set to be the Maldives, ahead by 178% in 2019. Bookings for France, 2% ahead, Pakistan, 2% behind, Bangladesh, 3% behind and the UK, 3% behind, are all extremely healthy compared to the end of Ramadan last year.

Ramadan travel

The next best-performing destinations are the UAE, 12% behind, Turkey and the Philippines, both 21% behind, Thailand 24% behind and Spain 26% behind.

The UK attracts premium class travellers during Ramadan

The recovery is also showing an interesting trend towards premium class travel, great news for high-end brands and luxury goods. In 2019, 20% of departures from Kuwait to the UK were in first or business class; this year the proportion has risen to 29%.

Looking at the issued tickets for the UK, which is traditionally one of the most popular tourist destinations during this period, there is a significant difference in interest from the various source markets.

Flight bookings from the UAE, which is the largest, are just 2% behind 2019. Bookings from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are 17% and 10% behind respectively, whereas bookings from Kuwait and Egypt are 32% and 59% ahead respectively.

VisitBritain CEO, Patricia Yates said: “The Gulf is a very important tourism source market for us and one of our highest spending. We know there is pent-up demand for international travel, so it is encouraging to see the continued recovery for travel to the UK, including the robust appetite for premium class travel from Kuwait and Qatar.” France is looking particularly popular with visitors from Egypt, Kuwait, and the UAE, where flight bookings are ahead of 2019 by 60%, 46% and 13% respectively.

Gordon Clark, VP of Biz Development for Travel Retail at ForwardKeys said: “Slowly but surely the air ticketing data at ForwardKeys is showing strong signs of travel recovery in Q2, from the Americas to Europe and the Middle East. Having this kind of information at your fingertips is indispensable as new markets open, shifts in consumer habits take place and smaller airports gain more authority in the travel recovery game. Like it or not, the way we do business has changed and being in the know is vital.”

Traveller Statistics provides in-depth flight data for TR companies and brands down to the airport terminal level of major international airports. Drawing on the most comprehensive datasets in the industry, Traveller Statistics shows the nationality, profile, and departure time of travellers so that you can be better equipped in staffing, samples, and product selection by the hour. Meanwhile, daily, monthly, and annual forecasts offer unique insight into the future of the global travel market.

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