Smaller groups, later bookings and trips to Ukraine are trending among Saudi travellers
Almosafer, the Kingdom’s leading omnichannel travel brand, is revealing key insights into Saudi nationals’ travel preferences following the outbreak of the pandemic.
Almosafer’s study examined consumers’ searches and bookings over the period from 17 May to 16 June 2021 compared to the same period pre-pandemic in 2019 and found promising signs of travel revival as KSA travellers venture out into the world again and continue to explore the vast tourism offering within the kingdom.
Since the resumption of international travel from Saudi Arabia last month, Almosafer has recovered 76% of total bookings compared to the same time in 2019 and expects this percentage to further increase by Q4 to exceed pre-pandemic booking volume as more travel restrictions are lifted and more destinations reopen for visitors across the world.
Almosafer has allocated significant funds, research and product development efforts to boost its domestic offering, in line with the Kingdoms’ wider agenda to enhance the tourism sector’s contribution to the national economy and will continue to do so with several innovative product launches planned in the coming months.
Close to Home
The data also shows that domestic travel is in high demand due to the growing appeal of local destinations for Saudi nationals. Top local destinations include Jeddah, Riyadh, Al Khobar and Dammam, while new trending destinations that gained popularity over the past year are Al Jubail, Abha and Jizan.
Destinations of interest beyond KSA within the MENA region include the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Egypt due to their proximity and familiarity, however, with Saudi’s international travellers prioritising quarantine-free, safe holidays, a few new trending destinations have entered the top 20 list including Ukraine.
Morocco has also emerged as a trending destination offering beautiful natural landscapes and beaches, rural and cultural heritage. Additionally, the Maldives is a top favourite among those looking for a beach escape.
The data analysed also revealed that Saudi nationals are opting for shorter trips abroad (5% shorter stays), and spending 5% more per booking to achieve higher levels of comfort, convenience and better social distancing options (16% increase in business class and 14% increase in first-class bookings).
With the ever-changing status of travel restrictions at various destinations, travellers’ booking window has reduced by 30%. Saudis are planning their trips less far ahead, making travel decisions based on current situations. As for travel companions, the study shows a clear inclination towards travelling in smaller groups or pairs, which could be attributed to Saudis wanting to test the waters at certain destinations before heading out with their families. Searches indicate an average of two people per booking for international destinations compared to an average of 2.5 people during the same period in 2019 before the pandemic.
Almosafer EVP Muzzammil Ahussain said: “Based on the initial results we’ve seen through Almosafer’s booking and searches during the last month, we feel very optimistic about the future of the travel sector in KSA. Because of our in-depth consumer survey, which we conducted earlier this year, we were able to better understand Saudis’ new travel preferences post-pandemic and offer them unparalleled travel advisory that enables them to plan their upcoming international and domestic trips with ease and convenience.
“Due to the various travel restrictions in place worldwide, it was interesting to see the changes in the top 20 destinations, which saw a few new emerging destinations that weren’t on Saudi nationals’ travel lists before such as Greece, Bosnia and Albania. Despite the opening of borders, we’re pleased to see that domestic travel is still in demand and that our efforts in promoting domestic bookings are paying off. Through Almosafer’s domestic activities marketplace and expert travel advisory, we will continue to develop a diverse range of local unique experiences that Saudis can discover in their home country, with a focus on cultural and adventure experiences.”
Almosafer’s dedicated team of experienced travel advisors provide a holistic customer support system offering 24/seven assistance, valuable insights, safety consultations, guidance and reassurance throughout the omnichannel booking experience.
For more information, visit Almosafer