Arabic travellers in the GCC plan for new travel experiences, says expert during ATM 2022

  • Speaking during Day 2 of Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, consumer intelligence company D/A highlighted the important role GCC travellers have to play in tourism recovery
  • The UAE and Saudi Arabia top the MENA region list of where GCC travellers plan to travel
  • The company utilises AI technology to measure tourism trends in the GCC by monitoring over 4 million social media posts from two million unique Arabic speaking social media accounts in the region

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: GCC travellers are looking to make up for lost time when it comes to travel, with the anticipation of new experiences dominating conversations, according to research revealed yesterday at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2022 by leading consumer intelligence company D/A.

The research is based on the analysis of over four million social media posts and comments from more than two million Arabic-speaking unique users in the GCC. The number of travel conversations and posts about travel increased by 110% and 151%, respectively, between 2019 and 2021.

Speaking on the ATM Global Stage on Tuesday, 10 May, Paul Kelly, Managing Partner, D/A, said: “Travel conversations increased to over 1.3 million in 2021, underscoring the willingness by Arabic speakers in the GCC to travel, regardless of age or nationality. We are ultimately witnessing the pent-up demand from the last two years coming to the fore as borders reopen, flights are back on track and restrictions are lifted.” 

GCC travellers have a vital role in tourism recovery, a direct result of their spending power. According to the UNWTO, GCC travellers spend 6.5 times more than the global average, with 40% of GCC travellers spending more than AED36,700 on their last trip to Europe. Travellers from Saudi Arabia are reportedly the highest travel spenders globally.

“Overall, when it comes to the GCC traveller, the conversations indicate that something new is the order of the moment. Even in the familiar, a new experience is at the top of the wish list for those intent on travelling soon – a huge change from what we have seen in the past year or two,” Kelly added.

In terms of holiday preference, the consensus is on escaping and breaking free and discovering new experiences, which many have been unable to do in the last two years. Those in the younger age groups were keen on shopping and enjoying local flavours, while the older groups were more focused on staying closer to nature and relaxing. Having fun was a mainstay; however, mid-career professionals have a lot of work travel lined up.

Holiday destinations favoured by GCC travellers followed the global google trend, which saw a spike in the search terms ‘staycation’ in 2020, which was representative of the number of people from GCC countries looking to vacation locally. 

According to the D/A research, the UAE was the most popular destination in the MENA region, followed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, and Qatar. In Europe, the UK was the most popular destination, followed by France, Germany and Italy, with Switzerland rounding out the top five list.

Elsewhere on the agenda on Day 3 at the ATM Global stage, delegates participated in an in-depth discussion about the future of the region’s hotel industry and the importance of unique dining experiences as an essential tool in the destination marketing playbook. Moving forward, on the final day of ATM 2022, highlights include redefining the new and evolved Indian traveller, responsible technology for travel and tourism, and the return and rise of city tourism.

About Arabian Travel Market (ATM)

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 29th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2021 showcased over 1,300 exhibiting companies from 62 countries across nine halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, with attendees from more than 110 countries over the four days. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #ATMDubai

About Arabian Travel Week

Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2022. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ATM Virtual, ILTM Arabia, ARIVAL Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, as well as Travel Tech. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country summits. 

About RX (Reed Exhibitions)

RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face-to-face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.


RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

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About World Travel Market

World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents, generating more than $7.5 billion of industry deals. The events are:

WTM Virtualis the WTM Portfolio virtual platform, created to offer global delegates the chance to arrange one-to-one virtual meetings, to do business, attend conference sessions and roundtables, take part in speed networking and more. WTM Virtual embrace the global leading travel shows in one platform.

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Around 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating over £3.71 billion in travel industry contracts. 

WTM Latin America takes place annually in São Paulo and attracts around 19,000 tourism professionals during a three-day event. The show offers qualified content, as well as networking and business opportunities. In its ninth edition – the first 100% virtual – WTM Latin America followed its focus on effective business generation and reached the milestone of 4,200 meetings held between buyers, travel agents and exhibitors.

WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. More than 6,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors.