UAE residents are set to explore a diverse range of destinations this summer, from the bustling streets of London to the tranquil beaches of Fujairah, according to Expedia's UAE Summer Travel Outlook.

This year’s data shows a significant increase in both domestic and international travel, with July being the most popular and affordable month for domestic trips and August the most expensive for international getaways.

Whether seeking cultural experiences in Europe, adventures in Asia, or the warmth of the MENA region, UAE residents are making the most of their summer vacations this year.

“This summer, UAE travellers are setting their sights on a wide array of experiences, from exploring the vibrant cityscapes of London and New York to unwinding on the pristine beaches of Krabi and Fujairah,” said Melanie Fish, head of Expedia Group Brands public relations.

“July is poised to be the peak travel month, with the busiest travel days being July 11 and 19, but if you’re able to plan your holidays in advance, travelling on August 27 or 30 could bag you the best deal. Whether it’s a cultural escape to Europe, an adventure in Asia, or a serene staycation within the UAE, bundling flights, hotels, and car rentals on the Expedia app is the best way to maximise savings.”

From pinpointing optimal flight times to revealing the trendiest destinations, Expedia’s Summer Travel Outlook equips travellers with essential cost-saving tips for planning the perfect summer trip.

Chasing the Big City Charm

UAE residents continue to seek the allure of major cities this summer, with London, Istanbul, Paris, Bangkok, and New York topping the list of preferred destinations. London remains the top hotspot in 2024, experiencing a 35% increase in searches compared to last year. The culturally vibrant Athens is also gaining popularity, with searches up by 54%, followed by Rome at 16%.

Trending Destinations in Asia and Coastal Islands

UAE residents are propelled to discover the wonders of Asia this summer, with destinations like Baku and various cities in Thailand luring visitors. Baku emerges as a rising star with a 70% surge in interest, enticing travellers with its unique blend of Eastern European and Western Asian influences. Bangkok, leading the Thai destinations with a remarkable 67% increase compared to last year, offers a rich tapestry of cultural heritage and modern attractions. Additionally, Thailand's tropical paradises such as Krabi (215%), Pattaya (155%), and Patong (100%) are gaining evident popularity.

For picturesque beaches and island escapes, destinations like Marbella, Maldives, Mykonos, Antalya, Bodrum, and the lush-green Bali are positioned as top choices for those seeking coastal, sun-soaked vacations.

MENA Region Hotspots

Searches show that residents who prefer shorter travel times or are visiting family are opting for Middle East and North Africa hotspots. Doha, in particular, is becoming a prime destination for hosting global sporting events with a remarkable 430% boost from last year. Saudi Arabia is also experiencing a travel boom, driven by key events and the rise of tourism gems like AlUla.

Trending destinations in the Kingdom also include Medinah and Makkah, each with a 260% increase year-on-year, primarily due to Haj season. This year, the trendy Beirut summer nights are shifting to the Great Alexandria, with a surge in searches to the latter by 70% compared to last year. Adventure and relaxation seekers alike are headed to Hurghada, with its stunning coral reefs and vibrant marine life, seeing a 115% increase in interest.

Domestic Destination Insights

Expedia revealed that domestic tourism has nearly doubled across the UAE (grand total 112%), with residents and citizens choosing to explore their own backyard to unwind. Dubai stays are trending this summer with an 85% increase, while Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah are experiencing even higher growth at 110% and 120%, respectively. Fujairah leads the surge with an impressive 151% increase for its immaculate beaches. This trend highlights a growing interest in local tourism and the diverse offerings within the UAE.

Best Times to Travel and Affordability Tips

For this year’s Summer holidays, running from 1 June – 1 September, Expedia has predicted that July is the most popular month for travel, both domestically and internationally. It is also the most affordable month for domestic travel, with average daily rates (ADR) being approximately AED59 per night cheaper than in June. Conversely, August is the most expensive month for international travel, with ADRs $28 (approximately AED103) per night higher than in September.

For those travellers who are flexible on the departure date, Expedia revealed that the quietest days to fly internationally are August 27 and 30, while the busiest dates are July 11 and 19. Planning travel around these dates can help avoid crowds and ensure a smoother travel experience.

Summer Travel Hacks

Here are the most valuable travel tools from Expedia identifying the best time to book, saving on flight fares and streamlined planning.

• Set up flight alerts: Find the right time to book and get notified when flight prices drop with Price Tracking.

• Choose a morning flight: According to Expedia’s 2024 Air Travel Hacks Report, flights departing after 3 pm are 50% more susceptible to cancellations than their earlier counterparts, proving it pays to be a morning person.

• Reserve a hotel with flexible policies: Use search filters to look for properties offering “free cancellation” or “reserve now, pay later,” and opt for the refundable room.

• Bundling: With flights + hotels, Expedia offers customisable holiday packages in one place, allowing travellers to save hundreds of dirhams on average. Travellers then also have their itinerary all in one place, making it easier to keep track of their journey, the agency said.

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