Rabail Abbas (December 8, 2012)
Given the fact that travel and tourism owns 47% of the total and 60% of the online market, the UAE has proved to be the one of the most accomplished and soaring markets for travel industry. Following the UAE, Saudi Arabia is the second largest country for online travel purchases in the Middle East, where 13% of online bookings are made in the Kingdom, and Qatar is third with 9%. According to a Travelport study dubbed ‘Assessing the Online Travel Opportunity: The Middle East’, the radical shift in the travelers’ mindset is expected to take online travel bookings to whopping $ 15.8 billion by 2014.
The estimates by PhoCusWright reveal that the total online travel market in the UAE will rise from $4.8 billion in 2011 to $9.5 billion in 2014, which on breakdown becomes 31% growth in 2012, 24% in 2013 and 22% in 2014. Antoine Medawar, the vice president of Amadeus Middle East and North Africa, said: “Such staggering figures are indicative of the fast evolving travel landscape in the UAE. The UAE traveler has been identified as the most sophisticated in the Middle East in terms of technology adoption, owing to high mobile, Internet and broadband penetration rates. It is evident, therefore, that technology companies must prioritize providing the industry with the right tools to support the growth of the online travel sector.” The research further divulges, “The upward trend is predicted to continue with online bookings expected to account for 22 percent of all travel bookings made in the region within the next two years, with a total value of $15.8 billion”.
Instead of dawdling for a phone call or email, trend shows that more and more people find it convenient as well as cost-effective to book the travel online. Besides covering the online travel trends in 10 Middle Eastern countries for the period of 2010 to 2014, it also revealed that the regional online travel agencies (OTAs) would grow by 18% till 2014 and in the next two years, booking value would go from $3.1 billion to $5.4 billion. Gross bookings made by Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are expected to rise from $1.7 billion in 2011 to $3.2 billion in 2014 whereas those by traditional airlines would increase from $16.5 billion in 2011 to $26.2 billion in 2014 and low cost carriers (LLCs) would increase from $1.4 billion in 2011 to $2 billion in 2014.
With a sleigh full of travel reservations, The Middle Eastern online travel industry is growing fast. Statistics show that 62 percent of the mobile phones in UAE comprise of smartphones and 43 percent of them are used to browse the web for information about travel, out of which 54% make an online purchase. Not only these facts and figures envisage tremendous growth of online travel industry but also show the great potential that the Middle East has to facilitate the growing demands of people.
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