Sojern reports decline in travel to the Middle East

Sojern has released insights on travel trends, comparing the booking patterns of travelers from 2019 to 2023.

The report highlighted the change in travel trends as of this month.

It found that there has been a recent decline in travel bookings (in the month of October) to the Middle East when compared to the same period in 2019.

Sojern suggested that the change in trends may be attributed to the ongoing regional instability, while the impact on future travel trends remains uncertain.

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Except for the recent downturn in bookings, travel trends have generally remained positive throughout this  year.

The insights showed that travel to the region had already rebounded to pre-COVID 2019 travel levels in the latter half of 2022.

It also marked that travel in 2023 has considerably improved. Flights to the UAE experienced an increase of 41 per cent in 2022 compared to 2021.

While the growth has slowed down for the current period, compared to 2021, it still grew by 20 per cent in the same time frame.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Travelling with a purpose

It has also marked an increase in international travellers to the UAE, visiting different events such as the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the upcoming COP28.

Sojern’s insights also indicated that they noticed a surge in travellers from Western Europe and North America during the time period of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

It found that flight bookings from Western Europe have increased by approximately 5 percentage points, rising from 35 per cent to 39 per cent of total bookings.

Similarly, North America has seen a comparable increase, going from 5 per cent to 10 per cent of all total bookings.

In contrast, Middle East travel has declined from 20 per cent to 14 per cent,  indicating potential hesitation towards  domestic travel within the region.

Sojern also noticed an increase in travel for North American travellers during the COP28 compared to one month before the event.

Travel season at its peak

Winter season, between October and March, in the region is one of its peak seasons for travel, providing a milder climate than the rest of the year.

Tourism-related boards focus on this season to release their various campaigns and festivals that additionally support travel to the region.

Experience Abu Dhabi recently launched its campaign for winter called ‘Can’t Wait to Winter’.

It launched a series of videos that featured several famous stars who played their parts in enticing visitors to visit Abu Dhabi.

Apart from these, festivals and limited-time events such as Dubai Shopping Festival and Global Village also serve as large draw to the UAE.

Saudi Arabia has also been hosting its own version of a tourism season. Riyadh, its capital, hosts the annual Riyadh Season where it hosts different events including concerts.