Musafir.com, UAE’s leading online travel agency, predicts that the “International Travel” segment will enjoy a faster growth path in 2023 versus the previous year.
“Travel sector constitutes nearly 10%1 of global GDP and authorities across countries have been collaborating synergistically to put in place the levels of safety, hygiene, and comfort required for the sector to regain its lost ground. Consequently, FY’ 2022 witnessed a steady recovery for leisure as well as business travel, on the back of a significant reduction in pandemic-related risk, eased travel regulations worldwide, enhanced travelers’ confidence and the desire at corporate levels to resume productive in-person engagements. The trend would only strengthen in 2023”, said Sachin Gadoya, Co-founder & CEO of Musafir.com & Musafir Business.
The data and trends, gathered through queries and bookings on Musafir Business platform, forecast business travelers to continue choosing First & Business class, despite a rise of ~10-15% in airfare. Premium Economy mode of travel augments further the choice repertoire of such travelers.
All put together, the average corporate travel budget in 2023 would rise by 15-20%, bringing it to a level comparable to pre-pandemic days.
Explaining further on the same, Mr. Gadoya added, “Insights obtained from Musafir Business platform establish very clearly that the organizations in the UAE prefer face-to-face interaction for building trust & longevity in their business relationship. With considerably eased travel regulations these days, the average annual business travel spend of SMEs in the UAE is expected to grow by 15-20% in 2023 – from AED 185K (2022) to AED 220K(2023), which is indeed very close to the pre-pandemic figure of 2019 i.e. AED 250K.”
The GCC, India, UK, EU countries, and USA will continue to remain the key inbound and outbound destinations for business travelers in the region, who undertake such trips not just for regular meetings with colleagues/ partners across various offices but also to forge new relationships by participating in events like exhibitions, conferences, trade-shows, etc.
Value propositions, hassle-free visa destinations, shorter flight duration and cruise will attract leisure travelers from the UAE
COVID challenged the cruise segment in an unprecedented way. The cruise will be one of the most important tourism trends in 2023 providing a unique opportunity for travelers to explore new destinations combined with a plethora of activities that suits everyone on a cruise ship.
On the leisure side, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Serbia, Albania, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan were the key choices of holiday destinations in 2022 for passengers from the UAE.
Musafir.com expects CIS countries to continue being the top preference of leisure travelers from the UAE.
“Passengers from the UAE enjoy visiting these countries due to the colder weather and acceptable flight duration of 3-4 hours. Not only are these places appropriate for holidaying with family & kids, but there are also plenty of budget hotels & value for money deals in these destinations to choose from. Overall, these holiday destinations provide customers an extremely good worth for their money”, added Gadoya.
This preference for value propositions in both i.e. airfare & accommodation will persist in 2023 as well. Gadoya also highlighted the expected increase in leisure travel to the UK & EU countries in 2023, especially Britain, France and Switzerland compared to going back home.
“Pandemic-led travel restrictions and visa challenges didn’t permit many travelers to visit these destinations. With the situations easing out, the demand for holidays across UK and EU countries will soar in 2023”, Gadoya elaborated. Additionally, leisure travellers from UAE prefer visiting countries that offer hassle-free easy visas, which could be e-visas, visa-on-arrival or visa-free destinations.
The average spend per person on a holiday is also expected to rise by 15-20% from AED 2500/- in 2022 to AED 3000/- in 2023, chiefly due to increased airfares. Therefore, the flexibility of pricing and options to choose from is likely to influence traveler’s choices regarding airlines and hotels.
”Basis the learning & insights processed at our technical & innovation hubs in the UAE & India, the industry should gear up for offering outbound leisure travelers an even mix of a budget as well as luxury options. We envisage the budget vs. luxury travel demand to remain stable at 50% each. Also, we see a marked skew towards a demand for flexible fares in the coming year”, Gadoya added.
1 Source: UNWTO.org