Growth in online travel planning and booking across the region will be the focus at Arabian Travel Market 2016, with research firm Phocuswright.
As per the research, 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 bn by 2018.
According to research 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.
Looking at it regionally, 46% of airline tickets in UAE are booked online, followed by Kuwait with 34%, Saudi Arabia with 23%, Lebanon at 18% and Egypt at 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 rising use of mobile technology is also supporting online trends, with 50% of travellers from UAE and 35% from Saudi Arabia leading the region.
“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.
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%.
A key area of annual growth, the travel technology area with renewed focus grew 38% in 2015 and for 2016 will cover over 1,500 square metres – a 68% increase on 2014 figures.
As per statistics, ATM 2015 witnessed a year-on-year visitor attendance increase of 12% to over 26,000, with exhibiting companies increasing by five percent to 2,873. Business deals worth more than US$2.5 billion were signed over four days.