Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

UAE residents booking travel on their phones up 25% in 2018

Total online travel sales forecast to reach Dh17.3 billion in 2018, according to new study

More and more UAE residents are booking travel through mobile apps. Getty
More and more UAE residents are booking travel through mobile apps. Getty

UAE residents booking travel on their mobile phones is expected to grow 25 per cent to reach a record Dh2.9 billion in 2018 from a year earlier, boosted by the widespread availability of travelling apps, a new study shows.

The market for online mobile travel sales will continue growing at a compounded annual rate of 16.4 per cent over the next five years as more apps targeting Arabic speakers become available, according to an analysis by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry based on data from Euromonitor International.

"UAE travelers increasingly turn to online platforms to research, book travel and accommodation, and take advantage of special deals," the report said.

Passenger numbers for the Middle East are expected to grow by 4.3 per cent annually over the next five years, according to industry body International Air Transport Association (IATA). The industry is a major pillar in regional economies. Aviation currently supports 2.4 million jobs and $130 billion in economic activity across the Middle East and Northern Africa, according to IATA. That represents 3.3 per cent of all employment and 4.4 per cent of all GDP in the region.

The value of UAE online travel sales in 2018 is forecast to reach Dh7.3bn, driven by a growing population, an increasing number of tourists and UAE residents’ shift towards digital services, the report said, without providing a comparative figure for 2017.


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The study showed that direct online sales in 2018 are expected to hit Dh9bn, supported by higher airline sales. Meanwhile, intermediary travel booking companies accounted for Dh8.3bn worth of online sales in the same year.

Leisure tourism accounted for 52 per cent of the intermediaries’ online travel sales in the UAE, with the value of transactions in this category is expected to reach Dh4.3bn by the end of 2018.

Business travel accounted for the remaining 48 per cent of UAE intermediaries’ travel online sales in 2018, valued at an estimated Dh3.9bn.

"International online travel agencies such as Booking.com and Expedia, account for the largest share of the UAE’s online travel market, thanks to their strong links to leading hoteliers and airline companies, strong digital marketing, wide variety of booking options and easy-to-use websites," the report said.

Updated: January 1, 2019 12:16 PM