Changing travel trends for GCC travellers in 2017

Distinctive experiences, connectivity, cultural sensitivity and security play a major role in the choice of destination for MICE and luxury travel from the GCC

The 5th annual MICE Arabia and Luxury Travel Congress will be held on 1st and 2nd March, 2017.
The 5th annual MICE Arabia and Luxury Travel Congress will be held on 1st and 2nd March, 2017.

The outbound market for MICE and luxury travel from the GCC region is witnessing changing trends for destination preferences according to key MICE and luxury travel specialists attending the upcoming 5th Annual MICE Arabia and Luxury Travel Congress.

Smailing Tours & Travel Service, Indonesia chief operating officer Jason Lim said in a statement: "For MICE, unique destinations that are connected well in aviation routes, food requirements as well as destination safety play a big part in the considerations of buyers and planners. Required MICE facilities as well as unique local experiences are also a priority for these planners and buyers."

Security continues to play an important role with the current economic scenario. These concerns are not isolated to GCC countries, but are a global issue for MICE, luxury travel and the hospitality industry.

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According to Nakhal Tours, Lebanon director of MICE Khaled Aridi: “The GCC market represents around 70% of all inbound tourism in Lebanon. However, the recent political situation in Lebanon, and the security conflicts in the MENA region have posed significant challenges to the development of this tourist demography.”

The period from June to September is the main travel season. During these months, which coincide with school holidays and extreme summer heat, outbound travel is high. Exotic getaways are not always tropical or beach-based, and travellers from the GCC region seek out different and natural weather phenomena. SNE Northern Europe CEO Dag Kastensson explained: “Scandinavia is as exotic to the GCC client as the GCC countries are to us. In contrast to the hot summers in the GCC countries, we offer cool, blue majestic fjord waters and midnight sun—this change of climate can be very attractive.”

The availability of Halal food and beverages, and cultural familiarity ranks high among GCC traveller, and most sponsors recognise the requirement for and importance of Halal food and beverages and are concentrating on delivering the necessities.

QnA International director Sidh N.C. added: “Platforms such as the MICE Arabia and Luxury Travel Congress, offer individuals representing country tourist bureaus and boards, and private tourism and hospitality institutions, a chance to understand the requirements of the GCC MICE and Luxury traveller. It is easy to assume that Halal food is the number one priority, but security, convenience and exciting experiences are all important too. Further, the intricacies of these requirements are what will set the destinations, or the hospitality operators apart from the competition.’’

The 5th annual MICE Arabia and Luxury Travel Congress will be held on 1st and 2nd March, 2017 at  Palazzo Versace, Dubai, UAE.

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