Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 July 2019

Gulf's online travel booking to more than double by 2023

Mena Research Partners projects growth of at least 20 per cent every year for the next five years

The Gulf's online travel market is projected to more than double in the next five years as demographics and consumer preferences change. Getty
The Gulf's online travel market is projected to more than double in the next five years as demographics and consumer preferences change. Getty

The Arabian Gulf's online travel market is set for a boom driven by a young and tech-savvy population, increased Internet connectivity and high smartphone penetration, according to new research.

Projected to grow at least 20 per cent every year for the next five years, the region's e-travel business is set to hit $15 billion (Dh55bn) by 2023, according to Mena Research Partners.

"These travellers have high expectations, demand personalised offers and do extensive online research before purchasing," said Anthony Hobeika, chief executive at MRP.

The Gulf's online travel business is expected to rise 140 per cent between 2019 to 2023 from current levels, MRP estimates. The market remains relatively untapped compared to global growth. The online travel sector accounts for 5 per cent of the GCC travel market compared to the worldwide average of 12 per cent.

"Potentially, this could mean a boom in the e-travel industry, which may log in 2.5 times growth," the report said.

Digital infrastructure in the region is improving with internet connectivity rates in the GCC crossing 90 per cent in countries such as the UAE and Bahrain, while rapidly expanding in other demographic heavyweights like Saudi Arabia.

Smartphone penetration in the GCC stands at more than 75 per cent, which is among the highest in the world. Smartphones are the most popular devices for researching travel offers online, and the mobile travel market is expected to further expand in the GCC.

"As a result of the digital infrastructure, the travel industry is undergoing massive changes, and the consumer appetite has changed from offline to online booking," the report said.

Governments in the GCC are promoting tourism in the region and have identified the sector as a major part of their long-term visions for economic growth, both from leisure to business travel as well as foreign and domestic travel.

Updated: April 8, 2019 01:18 PM

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