Outbound GCC travellers spent over US$69bn worldwide

A report conducted by GlobalData explores how generational trends influence GCC tourists

Outbound GCC travellers spent over US$69bn worldwide
Outbound GCC travellers spent over US$69bn worldwide

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) saw travellers spend over US$69 billion worldwide in 2018, an increase of 4.5% from 2017.

The area is developing to become a source market for any destination as outbound GCC travellers are seeking more engagement in an array of tourism experiences, according to GlobalData, a data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest report, ‘Tourism Source Market Insight: Gulf Corporation Council, explores how changing generational trends such as experiential travel, the search for authenticity and freedom of movement  are influencing GCC tourists to venture to a range of locations than ever before. 

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While visiting friends and relatives (VFR) and religious pilgrimages still heavily influence both domestic and intra-regional travel decisions in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with 52% and 20% of respective outbound consumers traveling for these reasons in 2018, vacation types such as cruises (36%), city breaks (33%), adventure/sport holidays (30%) and culinary holidays (30%) are spurring outbound travel, according to GlobalData's Q4 2018 consumer survey.

GlobalData’s travel and tourism analyst, Johanna Bonhill-Smith commented: “In 2018, families dominated the outbound GCC traveler market, accounting for an average of 60% of total trips from both Saudi Arabia and the UAE. However, this is expected to decrease over the next five years, as the majority of the GCC population is made up of millennials and those in the Generation Z age range, which are heavily influenced by the image of a destination – whether for gastronomy, adventure or culture. This helps explain the increasing interest for more niche tourism experiences.”

City destinations and cultural experiences spur inbound travel into Europe from the GCC. Italy, France and the UK are holiday destinations for these travelers, attracting markets due to providing ample opportunity for experiences through entertainment, attractions, sightseeing and shopping.

Bonhill-Smith adds: “However, Islamophobia referring to prejudices in a destination against the Muslim community, acts as a barrier for GCC travellers. For example, the recent burqa ban in the Netherlands will affect travelers’ ability to freely express their faith and religion, which may deter GCC travellers.”

Germany is a developing destination for the GCC due to the country’s improved connectivity, promotion, adopted airline routes and cultural reputation. GlobalData's Q4 2018 consumer survey found that tailored experiences are important to GCC travellers, with 84% stating they are ‘always’, ‘often’ or ‘somewhat’ influenced by a personal experience. Developments within the retail and luxury sector across Germany have been a key influencing factor for inbound flows to the destination.

Bonhill-Smith concludes: “Businesses seeking to tap into the GCC outbound travel market should aim to impress this market segment by respecting Arabian cultural needs, aspiring to exceed expectations through providing high quality and upmarket services whilst targeting evolving market opportunities such as the ‘coming of age traveller’ seeking cultural adventures."

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