The travel agency predicts a return of business travel and that cruise will be the next big thing
Musafir.com, one of the UAE’s leading online travel agencies, predicts that the international travel segment will enjoy faster growth in 2023 versus 2022.
Based on data gathered through queries and bookings on Musafir.com and its Musafir Business platform, the travel agency has forecast travel trends likely to prevail in 2023.
“The travel sector constitutes nearly 10% 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,” says Sachin Gadoya, co-founder and CEO of Musafir.com and Musafir Business. “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 traveller confidence and the desire at corporate levels to resume productive in-person engagements. This trend will only strengthen in 2023.”
Business Travel to Bounce Back
Musafir predicts that the GCC, India, the UK, EU countries and USA will continue to remain the key inbound and outbound destinations for business travellers in the region, who undertake trips for regular meetings with colleagues across various offices, as well as to forge new relationships by participating in events such as exhibitions, conferences and trade shows.
The average corporate travel budget in 2023 will rise by 15 to 20%, bringing it to a level comparable to pre-pandemic days says, Gadoya adding: “Insights obtained from Musafir Business platform establish very clearly that the organisations in the UAE prefer face-to-face interaction for building trust and longevity in their business relationships. With considerably eased travel regulations these days, the average annual business travel spend of SMEs in the UAE is expected to grow by 15 to 20% in 2023 from AED185K (2022) to AED220K (2023), which is very close to the pre-pandemic figure of 2019, AED 250K.”
Forecasts show business travellers will continue to choose first- and business-class flights, despite a rise of 10 to 15% in airfare. Premium Economy is the third most popular choice for business travellers.
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CIS Destinations to grow in popularity
A prolific seller of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) destinations, Musafir.com maintains that these packages will continue to be the preference of leisure travellers from the UAE. CIS countries include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.
On the Musafir website, Georgia (pictured), Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Serbia, Albania, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan were the top choices of holiday destinations in 2022 for UAE holidaymakers.
Commenting on the popularity of CIS destinations, Gadoya said: “Passengers from the UAE enjoy visiting these countries due to the colder weather and acceptable flight duration of three to four hours. Not only are these places appropriate for holidaying with kids, but there are also a lot of budget hotels and deals in these destinations. Overall, these holidays provide customers extremely good value-for-money.”
Gadoya also highlighted the expected increase in leisure travel to the UK, France and Switzerland and said that “hassle-free easy visas”, such as e-visas, visas on arrival or visa-free entry contribute significantly to a destination’s appeal.
Average holiday spend set to rise
The average spend per person on a holiday is also expected to rise by 15-20% from AED2,500 in 2022 to AED3,000 in 2023, chiefly due to increased airfares. Therefore, the flexibility of pricing is likely to influence travellers’ choices regarding airlines and hotels.
“Insights processed at our technology and innovation hubs in the UAE and India show that the industry should gear up for offering outbound leisure travellers an even mix of a budget as well as luxury options. We envisage that budget vs luxury travel demand will remain stable at 50% each.”
Cruise will be the ‘Next Big Thing’
Covid-19 challenged the cruise segment in an unprecedented way. In 2023, cruise will be one of the most important tourism trends of the year, according to Musafir, providing a unique opportunities for travellers to explore new destinations and the plethora of activities to suit everyone on board.
Musafir.com was founded by Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Thani and Sachin Gadoya in 2007 and now operates in the UAE, Qatar and India, and also offers Musafir Business travel management services.
For more information, visit www.musafir.com