Photo Credit: Keith Chan

A survey conducted by AVIAREPS, states that demand for outbound travel from GCC is expected to return August/ September, as a majority of the travel agencies are preparing to promote their travel packages from July through September 2020.

According to the survey, most promotional packages will include full travel packages inclusive of air, accommodation, and tour components. The most popular packages will be intra-Middle East packages, followed by packages for travel to South East Asia, Indian Ocean destinations, and Europe.

The survey was conducted with 94 GCC leading outbound travel agency respondents. The aim of the survey is to monitor travel agent sentiments as outbound travel agencies and destinations post-pandemic recovery process. The survey will be conducted continuously on a monthly basis. Respondents to the survey included 24 agencies from Saudi Arabia, 21 from the UAE, 21 from Bahrain, 11 from Qatar, 10 from Kuwait, and seven from Oman.

A total of 60% of respondents expect a return to outbound travel from August and September 2020, with 14% not expecting a return until 2021. Furthermore, 65% of travel agents will commence their outreach to clients with promotions from July through to September, while 13% will commence their client engagement this month (June 2020).

The survey states that as the flights become available with destinations reopening borders to visitors, international travel demand is expected to return in the summer. The return of this demand is expected for a few reasons, like clients preferring to travel after lockdown and wishing to venture outside to escape the heat of the Middle Eastern summer. The trend of GCC travelers booking international travel with relatively short led-booking times also strengthens the international demand to return quickly. Furthermore, clients are expected to travel to visit family and friends overseas, as soon as possible adding another incentive to venture overseas. 

A total of 90% of respondents mentioned that full serviced offerings that include flights, accommodation, land arrangements (including car hire) and tours, will be part of their promotional lineup. 75% will provide packages that combine flights and accommodation, while only 27% are to promote accommodation-only deals.

The survey asked what percentage of total outbound demand agents believe will go to which region, responses were Intra-Middle East travel ranked the highest at 17%, followed by Southeast Asia at 14%, the Indian Ocean destinations of Maldives, Mauritius, and Seychelles at 12% and Europe at 11%.

The respondents further stated that the support they would need from tourism boards, airlines, hospitality, and tour providers are updated on travel health and safety protocols to be adhered to, online, and webinar training for agents regarding destination updates, as well as favorable terms and conditions for last-minute cancellations.

Vice president middle east and global public affairs, AVIAREPS, Glenn Johnston said that although the possibilities of international travel are constantly changing it is necessary to follow market sentiment during this period so that destinations, airlines, hotels, tour operators and equally importantly our outbound travel agent partners throughout the region can plan and strategize for the speediest of recoveries. He further added despite the current difficulties and disruptions, the survey reflects the Middle East’s penchant for an overall view of optimism and action which everyone can take solace in and strength from as through the recovery plan in the months ahead.


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