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Impact on International Travel in UAE Deepens but Opportunity Exists

Over the past weeks, the impact on international travel plans has continued to climb. In a survey by GlobalData, 56 percent of respondents in the emirates have had to cancel their upcoming international travel plans due to restrictions.

This reflects how global travel restrictions continue to hinder the ability to travel, but there also lies opportunity, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company. 

Johanna Bonhill-Smith, travel and tourism analyst, GlobalData commented, “Spending USD4,7 billion on outbound travel in 2019 and having grown five percent from 2018, the UAE is an emerging source market from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). A passion to explore a variety of cultures means that Emiratis will likely prove a lucrative source market for destinations if they are targeted effectively.”

Bonhill-Smith added, “As airport procedures become more intense and time consuming, the cost of travel is also likely to increase. Time and money constraints are not a huge barrier to outbound travel for Emiratis, therefore, tourists are likely to venture to destinations further afield and spend longer periods of time away to make the trip worthwhile.”

Europe is perceived as a generally trustworthy destination among Emirati travellers, suggesting there is a promising outlook for future travel between these regions. The UK and Germany are already part of the top ten international departures for the UAE, but it is clear that there is more opportunity for market development. As social media usage continues to grow across the destination, DMO’s should leverage this opportunity to make contact with this high-yielding traveller.

Bonhill-Smith further added that as June approaches - the most popular month of travel for Emirati travellers - the ongoing impact on international travel is likely to worsen. International trips (5,1 million in 2019) exceed domestic (4,01 million in 2019) in the UAE but travel restrictions and lockdown procedures have affected both. Brands can still use this time effectively to build relationships and connect with their consumer base. Personalised and digital content bodes well with the Emirati traveller.