Staycations and Extended Visits Drive Middle East Travel Boom in 2024

Staycations and Extended Visits Drive Middle East Travel Boom in 2024

Consumer spending and passenger traffic are reaching unprecedented levels in 2024, driven by a renewed passion for travel, according to a new report by Mastercard.

The "Travel Trends 2024: Breaking Boundaries" report indicates that nine out of the ten highest spending days ever recorded in the global cruise and airline industries occurred this year, showcasing a robust and thriving travel sector.

Regional Travel and Staycations on the Rise

The report highlights a significant increase in staycations within the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco experiencing notable tourism growth. Travelers are extending their trips by an average of three days compared to pre-pandemic levels, reflecting a preference for local exploration and cultural experiences.

Natalia Lechmanova, Chief Economist EEMEA at Mastercard Economics Institute, commented on the findings:

“The Middle East travel sector is thriving, driven by strong consumer demand and a desire for local exploration. Extended stays are a positive sign for tourism and local economies.”
  1. Experiential Spending: Consumers are prioritizing unique experiences over material goods. Spending on experiences such as local dining and events now accounts for 12 percent of total tourism sales, the highest level in five years. In the UAE, tourism spending on casual dining has increased by approximately 21 percent compared to the previous year.
  2. Cruise Travel: Cruises are becoming a budget-friendly alternative to traditional hotels, with global passenger transactions surpassing 2019 levels by 16 percent in Q1 2024. The Middle East is also tapping into this trend with the establishment of the Cruise Arabia alliance.
  3. Top Destinations: Japan and the UAE have emerged as top global destinations, while Munich is the top summer destination due to the European Championship. For Saudi travelers, the trending summer destinations are Cairo, Rome, and Cape Town, whereas UAE travelers favor London, Athens, and Paris.

The Impact of Memorable Events

The report also highlights how significant events are influencing travel trends. Major concerts, such as Taylor Swift’s shows, and sporting events like the Cricket World Cup are drawing large crowds. A noteworthy future event is a total eclipse over the pyramids in Egypt in 2027, expected to attract global attention.

An analysis by the Mastercard Economics Institute of this year’s solar eclipse in the US showed a significant increase in sales in areas within the path of totality, illustrating the strong economic impact of such celestial events.

News Source: Gulf Business

Maryam Pervez

Written by Maryam Pervez

Maryam is the Managing Editor at HiDubai, bringing 8+ years of expertise in marketing, social media, and content development. She holds a Master's degree in Marketing Comms from Middlesex University.
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