Wednesday 18 September 2019

GCC travellers 'increasingly connected online throughout their journey'

DUBAI, April 29, 2018

Technology is integral at every stage of the modern GCC travellers’ journey, from planning through to the destination and returning home, an industry expert has revealed.

Commenting on the finding of a recent Global Travel Intentions (GTI) Study by Visa, Marcello Baricordi, general manager for Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Visa, said: "It is vital for the travel industry to understand how travellers gather information and make decisions. The increasing use of online tools means we should be using these platforms to connect with our consumers at every step of their journey.”

According to the study, travellers from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait rely heavily on online sources at every stage of travel and 97 per cent, 93% per cent, and 85 per cent, respectively, gained online access while overseas.

The study also uncovered certain aspects of travel that can lead to anxiety and stress, including getting, carrying and exchanging cash.

“Our study has also found that digital payment is relevant because travellers want a reliable, secure and convenient experience, without the worry of carrying cash. Visa’s cashless solutions offer travellers the freedom of acceptance at more than 46 million merchant locations worldwide, the peace of mind of being protected by Visa's global, secure network - backed by multiple layers of security, and the added benefit of a competitive exchange rate when they pay in local currency. As more people travel internationally in 2018, we look forward to helping travellers make the most of their trips,” Baricordi said.

2018 macro trends in travel

In addition to examining the motivations and planning tactics, the GTI Study of outbound travellers from 27 countries and territories also uncovered a number of macro trends expected to continue into 2018.

Globally trips may be getting shorter but GCC travellers still favour longer trips.

The global average is now eight nights, down from 9.5 nights on average in 2015. The average trip length in GCC countries is nine nights for UAE travellers, 10 nights for Kuwait travellers and 14 nights for Saudi travellers.

Globally, people are planning to take more trips abroad in the future, from an average of 2.5 trips in the past two years to 2.7 trips in the next two years. A similar upward trend was observed among GCC countries. While UAE travellers had taken 4.8 international trips in the past two years, they anticipate taking 5.4 trips in the next two years. Those living in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait travel less frequently (1.0 for Saudi Arabia and 0.8 for Kuwait); however, travellers in both countries expect to increase slightly to 1.1 in the next two years.

Technology travel trends

Technology is helping some travellers navigate their destinations better. While 88 per cent of travellers gained online access while abroad, more GCC travellers use a mobile device to access the internet during their trip (97 per cent from UAE; 93 per cent from Saudi Arabia and 95 per cent from Kuwait).

Almost half (44 per cent) of travellers globally use ride-sharing apps to get around once they are on the ground. Travellers from the UAE sharply exceed this figure, with 71 per cent of travellers from the UAE using ride-sharing apps at their travel destinations. In contrast, travellers from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia rarely use ride-sharing apps while travelling, with only 11 per cent of Saudi travellers and six per cent of Kuwait travellers using these apps.

Destination trends

Travellers generally visit a single country, with only 11 per cent of global travellers visiting multiple countries in one trip. In the GCC, multi-destination trips are even less common with only 9 per cent of UAE travellers, four per cent of Saudi travellers and 6 per cent of Kuwait travellers visiting multiple countries.

Japan has overtaken the US as the most popular destination for global travellers in the past two years. Over the next two years, the UAE will remain the preferred destination for Saudi Arabia (11 per cent of travellers) and Kuwait (10 per cent) while India will remain the preferred destination for travellers from the UAE (10 per cent). Turkey stands out as the second most preferred destination to visit for Saudi and Kuwaiti travellers, and third for UAE, followed closely by Egypt in all three countries.
Spending travel trends

When it comes to what travellers spend on their entire trips, including the booking stage as well as expenditures at the destination, the top five spenders are travellers from Saudi Arabia (intend to spend a median of $4,800 on next trip), China ($4,034), Australia ($3,529), the US ($3,500) and Kuwait ($3,474). Travellers from the UAE ($3,430) also plan to spend more than the global median amount of $2,443.

In the GCC, the majority of spending during the planning and booking phase of a trip is done via card payments; 84 per cent in UAE, 55 per cent in Saudi Arabia and 60 per cent in Kuwait. In the UAE, nearly half of all consumers attribute this preference mainly to lower transaction fees and better rewards for international usage. In Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, over three-fourths of travellers say that the main reason for this trend is that their agent/booking website prefers this payment method.

Simplifying payment abroad

While travellers use a combination of cards and cash while on vacation, the study showed that over 50 per cent of travellers from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would shift to card payments while travelling abroad, if they believed merchants would accept it internationally.

The study also found the following themes related to the use of cash while travelling internationally:

Cash causes anxiety: Travellers cited loss of cash or theft as a top money concern while on trips. Additionally, high charges/rates and security are among the top concerns affecting ATM withdrawals abroad for travellers from UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Big spenders: The global median amount of cash brought to a destination is $778 but travellers from the GCC bring substantially more cash; UAE travellers brought $1,901, Saudi Arabian travellers brought $2,168 and Kuwait travellers brought $2,218 on their last trip.
Leftover cash: While 87 per cent of travellers globally have leftover cash after their trips, this is substantially higher for GCC travellers. Ninety per cent of travellers from the UAE, 97 per cent from Saudi Arabia and 93 per cent from Kuwait have cash leftover. - TradeArabia News Service

Tags: GCC | travellers | travel | technology | Online |

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