Recent research from Phocuswright has reported that the Middle East’s online travel market is forecast to almost double in value within the next two years, rising from $18 billion to $35 billion by 2018.
According to research released by Euromonitor International, in 2014, 60% of airline reservations and ticketing was made online by Dubai based travellers alone, driven largely by a younger tech-smart generation for whom online and mobile technology is the preferred booking channel. Regionally, 46% of airline tickets in the UAE are booked online, followed by Kuwait (34%), Saudi Arabia (23%), Lebanon (18%) and Egypt (12%).
Around 50% of the UAE population relies on the Internet as the first port of call when planning or purchasing travel-related products, and the rising use of mobile technology is also supporting online trends, with 50% of travellers from the UAE and 35% from Saudi Arabia leading the region in using their smartphones to make travel arrangements.
“The region has seen phenomenal growth in online engagement in the last two years, transitioning from a traditional face-to-face booking model to a new virtual reality where 24/7 updated information is a basic expectation and speed of access is essential when it comes to planning, researching and booking,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market, which takes place at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre, on 25-28 April 2016.
By the end of 2017, according to a joint study conducted by Travelport and Phocuswright, online travel bookings, which currently account for 25% of all bookings in the Middle East, will rise to 36%.
“Airlines and hotels are the acknowledged market leaders when it comes to highly effective online marketing and consumer engagement, and this is an area where all industry players needs to ensure that they look at increasing market share and awareness through a blend of creative messaging teamed with ongoing technology investment, especially when it comes to mobile applications,” said Noblet-Segers.
A key area of annual growth, the travel technology area of the exhibition floor was launched as The Travel Tech Show at ATM in 2015. With this renewed focus it grew 38% in 2015 and for 2016 will cover over 1,500 square metres – a 68% increase on 2014 figures. 51 exhibitors are already confirmed, including first-time participants Travelbook, iWeen Software Solutions and ChatSim and Plug In Travel, as well as returning exhibitors such as Amadeus, Travelport, Digital Trip, IATI and TravelClick.