Middle East Travel Trends 2024: Longer Holidays and Bigger Spends

middle east travel trends
Middle East travek trends

Travellers in the Middle East are opting for longer holidays and increased spending on trips, according to the latest report from the Mastercard Economics Institute.

The “Travel Trends 2024” report reveals robust consumer spending on travel, with significant increases in passenger traffic and extended trip durations.

Despite fluctuating exchange rates and varying levels of affordability, the desire to travel remains strong. The report highlights that in 2024, nine of the past ten record-setting spending days in the global cruise and airline industry occurred this year.

Natalia Lechmanova, Chief Economist EEMEA at Mastercard Economics Institute, emphasized the resilience of the travel sector in the region. “The travel sector in the Middle East region is incredibly strong and resilient, supported by consumer demand, an appetite to discover destinations closer to home, while enjoying memorable and authentic experiences,” she said.

The report provides several key insights into travel trends in the Middle East:

  • Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom exceeded 3 million inbound visits per month for the first three months of 2024, marking a historic milestone.
  • Egypt: The country recorded a 27% year-on-year growth in visitors for 2023.
  • Morocco: Tourist arrivals reached 3.3 million by the end of Q1-2024, up 12.8% from the same period the previous year.
  • Dubai: After setting a new visitor record in 2023, Dubai saw an 11% increase in tourism numbers in Q1-2024.

One of the notable trends is that tourists in the Middle East and Africa are extending their trips by an average of three additional days compared to pre-pandemic stays. This trend is more pronounced in Morocco, where visitors are staying about four days longer, and in the UAE, where stays have extended by approximately one day.

The report also highlights that there is an inverse relationship between the cost of destinations and the length of stays. Cheaper destinations are attracting longer stays, which translates to more spending per trip and provides an economic boost to local economies.

In the UAE, tourism spending on casual dining has surged by roughly 21% compared to the same period last year.

This increase is driven by memorable events, such as concerts and sporting events, contributing to the overall growth in tourism spending.

Consumers are prioritizing meaningful experiences over material goods, with spending on experiences now accounting for 12% of tourism sales, according to SpendingPulse Destinations.

This shift towards experiential spending is expected to continue, benefiting local businesses and the broader tourism industry.


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