Have you ever wondered what is the number 1 destination for MENA travelers?
During the “Arabian Travel Market 2018” (ATM) in Dubai, many research companies shared their numbers and their analysis with the public.
WEGO, a leading travel agency, issued the “MENA Traveler Destination Leaderboards” showcasing the most popular global destinations amongst travelers based in the MENA region during the first quarter of 2018.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia were revealed to be the most visited countries by MENA travelers, while the UAE was placed fifth.
As for the European countries, the United Kingdom came first.
Egypt & Saudi: Who are their visitors?
Not all Egypt visitors are tourists, and not all Saudi visitors go there for business, Wego’s report revealed.
Mamoun Hmedan, Wego’s Managing Director, MENA, and India, said: “MENA travelers are lured by the culture, scenic attractions, and incredible food that can be experienced in Egypt but we also see large volumes of traffic from the business and expatriate sector.”
Saudi received a steady mix of business, expatriate, and religious travel. There has also been an increase in domestic travel intent in 2018, possibly due to increased activities by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTA) and the new Entertainment Authority, as mentioned in the report.
Egypt and Saudi maintained their last year rankings being #1 and #2 accordingly, as reported by Wego, while the biggest gainer in Q1 2018 was Oman which jumped a massive nine places to number 15, an improvement likely related to the opening of a new airport in Muscat and a host of new hotels and other facilities opening in the Sultanate.
UAE to employ 394,000 persons in the travel industry by 2026
The UAE ranked fifth on the list after India and Turkey, which is an decline from being third during the first quarter of 2017.
But the leaders on the list better watch out; the UAE was ranked to become the most competitive travel destination in the GCC because of Hyperloop One, according to a report published by the World Travel Market (WTM).
Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said: “As we move towards an innovative and technologically-driven future, it is important to explore the impact ultra-modern travel infrastructure will have on the tourism industry in the UAE and wider GCC region.”
The number of people employed in the industry in the UAE is expected to increase from 317,300 in 2016 to 394,000 in 2026, according to a study published by the World Travel and Tourism Council.
The UK is first and Russia is looking interesting
Wego reported that “the UK remains the first European destination for MENA travelers in Q1 2018, and London continues as the most visited city in Europe thanks to its exciting winter activities, awe-inspiring historical sites, museums and so much more.”
UKinbound, a leading travel trade association that focuses on the interests of the UK’s inbound tourism sector, said: “We will continue to lobby Government on issues such as increasing marketing spend, visas and APD, to ensure that the UK remains the first choice for our international tourists and an attractive business and leisure destination.”
While Russia was placed tenth on the list of European Destination Leaderboard, with the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia rapidly approaching, Wego reported “a tsunami of searches by football-lovers” regarding flights and hotels in Russia.
“Football mania in the Middle East is peaking with a historically unprecedented four countries from the region qualifying for the final stage of the competition,” it added.