Saudis swamp online travel websites as flights ban set to ease

Egypt topped the list of desired destinations, followed by the Philippines, Morocco, Jordan, and Turkey

  
Woman using laptop, paying with credit card, travel booking. Image for illustrative purpose only.

Woman using laptop, paying with credit card, travel booking. Image for illustrative purpose only.

Getty Images/Westend61

RIYADH: Online travel companies have reported a spike in searches from Saudis looking for overseas destinations ahead of a resumption of international flights from Monday.

Wego, one of the largest online travel marketplaces in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, had witnessed a 52 percent increase in international flight searches and a 59 percent rise in hotel inquiries since the announcement on flying was made in January.

And data showed that a quarter of people searching for flight options were planning to jet off within 15 days of the lifting of the ban.

Egypt topped the list of desired destinations, followed by the Philippines, Morocco, Jordan, and Turkey.

Figures also revealed that 68 percent of flight inquiries came from people planning to travel alone, while 20 percent were for family groups, and 12 percent couples.

Mamoun Hmedan, Wego's managing director for the MENA region and India, said: "This is a great step toward reviving the tourism sector in the region. Saudi Arabia constitutes a significant percentage of the tourism sector in the Middle East.

"The country has been handling the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic very well, reinstating confidence for travelers. Many people have been eagerly waiting for this announcement and we expect to continue to see a surge in flight and hotel bookings to and from Saudi Arabia."

Founded in 2005, Wego has headquarters in Dubai and Singapore along with regional operations in Bangalore, Jakarta, and Cairo.

Rival online travel site, Skyscanner, also reported a recent uptick in searches for international travel with the volume in the Kingdom rising 147 percent week-on-week since May 3.

The data, based on users looking to travel up until October, found that the most popular city destinations were Manila, Cairo, Dubai, and Istanbul.

© Arab News 2021

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