UAE is top regional holiday destination for MENA travellers


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the region’s most popular destination for travellers from the Middle East and Africa (MENA) region. This is according to the 2015 edition of the Global Travel Intentions Study, which was released by Visa during this year’s Arabian Travel Market.

The report – which surveyed 13,603 travellers across 25 countries in January and February 2015 – found that 16% of respondents from MENA chose UAE as their most favoured travel destination within the region in 2015. The Gulf country now ranks ahead of the other popular short break options, Egypt and Turkey.

In terms of what travellers are looking for, it seems that budget is no longer the primary driving factor when choosing a holiday destination. Instead, the survey revealed that MENA holidaymakers are now choosing options based on great scenery; interesting attractions; and good shopping options.

Marcello Baricordi, general manager of the UAE and global accounts lead at Visa MENA, said: “Our latest Global Travel Intentions Study is shining a very positive light on the region and the UAE’s industry, and what’s interesting to see is that people from this region are serious about their leisure time. People from the MEA region holiday for an average of 13 nights per trip – which is more than the global average, and travellers from Saudi Arabia and Egypt put aside the largest travel budgets per trip.

“Leisure is a serious business and insights of this kind are invaluable in our collaboration with the travel, hospitality and leisure sectors, and to understand individual traveller sentiments. We have been publishing the Visa Global Travel Intentions Study since 2006 and it has become a valuable tool to help the industry make informed decisions that bring significant benefits to the wider travel industry and individual travellers.”

We’re big spenders

Globally, respondents revealed that they set aside a median travel budget of $2,281 (AED 8,378) per trip, which is substantially less compared to MENA travellers. Of the 25 countries surveyed, travellers from Saudi Arabia spend the most – a median of $5,866 (AED 21,545) per trip – closely followed by Egyptians at $4,917 (AED 18,059). In third place were Chinese travellers at $4,780 (AED 17,557).

When it comes to vacationers from the UAE, the average travel budget is $2,518 (AED 9,248) per trip.

Interestingly, the majority of us are now turning to plastic for our holiday purchases. The study found that during the planning stage, cards are the most preferred way to pay for holidays with 46% of global travellers using only cards at that stage. While at their destination, 81% of global travellers use a combination of cards and cash to pay.

“The convenience, security and benefits that payment cards offer are aspects that travellers really value. Our study showed that 61% of UAE travellers prefer to use cards across all merchants when they are at their destination,” Baricordi added. “While globally, 29% of travellers said they would spend more if they are able to use cards more frequently and at more merchants, 33% of UAE travellers would use their cards more frequently.”

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