May 05 2012
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Qataris, Saudis highest spenders abroad: Study
JEDDAH - Qataris are highest spenders abroad with daily average of $4,100 followed by Saudis at $3,360 and Emiratis at $3,280.
The findings of a recent study on the outbound travel habits of GCC nationals were revealed during a session held as part of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2012 seminar series.
The study entitled "The Outbound GCC Travel Market - Unique Trends and Characteristics of GCC Nationals" said Qataris spend the most on travel with an average expenditure of $4,100 per day, followed by travelers from Saudi Arabia at $3,360 and the UAE at $3,280.
The breakdown of spending across all GCC nationalities includes 54 percent allocated to airfares (across all classes of travel), 18 percent on accommodation, 9 percent on dining and 5 percent on car rental.
Compared to the rest of the world, GCC nationals spend 260 percent more on airfares and 430 percent on accommodation, but 13 percent less on car rental.
"The class of travel is also important, with 40 percent of Qataris interviewed opting for first class, and between 40 and 60 percent of all GCC nationals booking business class," author of the study Sunil Malhotra, senior lecturer at the Emirates Aviation College , said.
The study findings touched on the recurring theme of extended vacations as a major differentiator between this region and the rest of the world, led by Qatari and Saudi Arabian travelers, with stays ranging from 14 up to 56 days.
According to the report summary, 53 percent of survey respondents will travel to between two and five countries for leisure or pleasure within the next 12 months, with Saudi nationals the most frequent travelers, followed by the UAE.
"Cultural experiences and family-focus are the two most important factors when planning travel, with 40 percent of survey respondents looking at taking an extended three to four-week trip in the next 12 months," said Malhotra.
The study interviewed 2,500 GCC nationals about their travel habits over a 12-month period from January to December 2011.
Moreover, the prospects for growth in tourist arrivals in the Middle East and the success of some hotels in the region in using social media augured well for the region's tourism and hospitality industry, participants at the World Travel Market (WTM) Vision Conference-Dubai agreed.
Mark Frary, co-founder of WTM's Social Travel Market conference, said: "Ever since 2005, the voice of the customer - the hotel guest - has been deafening. Guests have used the Internet and social media networks to share their views, often good but frequently bad, of their hotel stays. The reality is that this social media chatter will go on even if hotels choose not to engage with social media.
"However, by choosing to invest time, and yes money, in social media, hoteliers can become part of the conversation and exert influence on how they are perceived."
Frary showed how hotels in ATM's host city of Dubai and in the wider Middle East had already engaged with social media, highlighting the good work being done by the Atlantis Palm, the Dusit Thani and the Kempinski group.
Speaker Nadejda Popova, industry analyst with Euromonitor International, said the Arab Spring had not been detrimental to all countries in the region. "The UAE and Saudi Arabia have actually benefited from the uprisings, as they were seen as stable countries to travel to," she added.
The company predicts that tourism arrivals in the Middle East will rise by 1.3 percent in 2012, after the blip of 2011 when these fell by 6.2 percent. However, this temporary blip is on the back of a strong 2010 when tourist numbers grew by an impressive 11.5 percent.
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