Middle East online travel market to double in value to US$35 billion in next two years

Growth in online travel planning and booking across the region will underpin the Travel Tech Theatrethe travel show focus at Arabian Travel Market 2016, with research firm Phocuswright reporting that the Middle East’s online travel market is forecast to almost double in value within the next two years, rising from US$18 billion to US$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. Looking at it 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%.

ATM 2016 will build on the success of this year’s edition with the announcement of an additional hall as Reed Travel Exhibitions looks to add to its record-breaking achievements earlier this year. ATM 2015 witnessed a year-on-year visitor attendance increase of 12% to over 26,000, with exhibiting companies increasing by 5% to 2,873. Business deals worth more than US$2.5 billion were signed over the four days.


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