At the Arabian Travel Market, Wego Publishes Inaugural “MENA Traveller Destination Leaderboards”

April 22, 2018
, by wego admin


  • Egypt and Saudi Arabia remain constant at #1 and #2 destinations overall
  • India at #3 and Turkey #4 are both up one position on the ladder vs Q1 2017
  • UK is #1 European destination with Russia dubbed as the biggest climber


UAE, Dubai – 22 April 2018: Wego today revealed for the first time, the “MENA Traveller Destination Leaderboards” that showcases the relative popularity of global destinations amongst travellers based in the MENA region. As the largest online travel marketplace across the MENA region, Wego users shop for tens of millions of trips each quarter and it’s this flight and hotel search data that has been analysed to determine the destination rankings. The leaderboard announced today is for Q1 2018 and subsequent updates will be released shortly after the close of each quarter. Please contact Wego, as per the details below, if you’d like to receive these updates regularly.


Global Destination Leaderboard

Egypt retains its #1 ranking in Q1 2018 as the most popular destination for travellers, from across the MENA region with the Egyptian capital of Cairo leading the way as the most searched destination overall. “MENA travellers are lured by the culture, scenic attractions, and incredible food that can be experienced in Egypt but we also see large volumes of traffic from the business and expatriate sectors”, said Mamoun Hmedan, Wego Managing Director MENA and India.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia retains its #2 ranking and received a steady mix of business, expatriate and religious travel. There has also been an increase in domestic travel intent in 2018, possibly due to increased activities by SCTA and the new Entertainment Authority. With the Kingdom increasingly interested in promoting tourism, both domestically and from around the region, it will be interesting to watch the evolving dynamics in the years ahead.

India at #3 and Turkey at #4 stepped up 1 rung each in the destination leaderboard for Q1 2018 vs Q1 2017, while of UAE fell from #3 to #5. Despite the overall drop, Dubai remains a popular destination for MENA travellers and, as a methodological note, we’ll break it out in future releases of the MENA Traveller Destination Leaderboards.

The biggest gainer in Q1 2018 was Oman which jumped a massive 9 places to #15, an improvement likely related to the opening of a new airport in Muscat and a host of new hotels and other facilities opening in the Sultanate. Oman’s national carrier, Oman Air, also now offers the most convenient way to get from to Doha from a range of countries. The biggest decline can be seen for Malaysia, which is down 6 places to #16 from #10 in Q1 2017. Last year saw a major decrease in tourist arrivals from KSA and UAE due to a confluence of increased competition from Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Reduced promotional budgets from Malaysia’s side can also be a contributory factor. Since, Arabs are known to be the biggest spenders in the country, Tourism Malaysia is actively trying to reverse the trend by making the visa process easier and ramping up advertising budgets.



Top 25 Destinations Globally
for MENA-based Travellers

Q1 2018
Country Change from
Q1 2017
1 Egypt =
2 Saudi Arabia =
3 India +1
4 Turkey +1
5 UAE -2
6 Kuwait +1
7 Philippines +2
8 Jordan +2
9 Indonesia -4
10 Pakistan +4
11 Morocco -4
12 Thailand =
13 United Kingdom +1
14 USA +1
15 Oman +9
16 Malaysia -6
17 Germany =
18 Lebanon +1
19 Sudan -4
20 Bahrain -2
21 Azerbaijan +6
22 France -2
23 Georgia +2
24 Tunisia +6
25 China -5


European Destination Leaderboard (including former USSR)

The United Kingdom remains the #1 European destination for MENA travellers in Q1 2018 and London continues as the most visited city in Europe thanks to its exciting winter activities, awe-inspiring historical sites, museums and so much more.

Notebaly, Wego recently partnered with VisitBritain, to promote destinations across the UK to travellers in MENA and as a result there has been a very significant surge in interest and sales.

Germany remains steady as the second most popular destination in Europe for MENA based travellers. It is popular with football lovers, for medical tourism and also as a major travel hub and jumping off point to other countries in Europe.

Azerbaijan has seen a significant uptick in interest with MENA travellers in 2018 and is now ranked #3 up from #5 a year ago. The country even overtook the tourism mega-destination France – now at #4. Neighbouring country, Georgia, is also seeing a strong tourism growth from the MENA region.

With the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia rapidly approaching, a tsunami of searches by football-lovers has helped push Russia up seven places to rank as the #10 destination in Europe and former USSR. Football mania in the Middle East is peaking with a historically unprecedented four countries from the region qualifying for the final stage of the competition.


Top 10 Destinations in Europe (including former USSR)
for MENA-based Travellers

Rank Country Change from
Q1 2017
1 United Kingdom =
2 Germany =
3 Azerbaijan +2
4 France -1
5 Georgia -1
6 Spain +1
7 Bosnia and Herzegovina -1
8 Italy =
9 Switzerland +1
10 Russia +7


MENA Destination Leaderboard

In terms of destinations within the MENA region, Turkey and the UAE have swapped places as have Jordan and Morocco, since Q1 of 2017.

Bustling street markets, easy access to halal food, short flight durations and cultural familiarity are all reasons why Turkey remains consistently popular as a destination with MENA travellers.

Amman, Jordan emerged as the biggest winner amongst Middle Eastern cities with a spike in visitors in 2018 possibly attributed to the launch of the new Jordan trail and other new tourism boosting initiatives. Morocco is probably down on account of the unrest in Casablanca in the last quarter of 2017.

As previously noted Oman is the biggest gainer within the region; while Bahrain is down a couple rungs but holding onto the #10 spot in the table and narrowly avoiding being ousted from the leaderboard.


Top 10 Destinations in MENA
for MENA-based Travellers

Q1 2018
Country Change from
Q1 2017
1 Egypt =
2 Saudi Arabia =
3 Turkey +1
4 UAE -1
5 Kuwait =
6 Jordan +1
7 Morocco -1
8 Oman +4
9 Lebanon =
10 Bahrain -2


Asia Pacific Destination Leaderboard

Philippines and Indonesia continue as the most popular destinations for MENA based travellers in the Asia Pacific region but have swapped places with each other in 2018 vs 2017. Both destinations receive a mix of expatriate and leisure tourists from the region, with the tropical beach destinations of Bali and Boracay remaining perpetual favourites with Wego users.

Thailand has held constant as the #12 ranked destination for MENA travellers globally despite unresolved diplomatic issues with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and has climbed above Malaysia to become the #3 destination within the Asia Pacific region.

Malaysia has fallen a massive 6 spots from #10 in Q1 2017 to only #16 in 2018 as a result of increased competition from Muslim-friendly destinations such as Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan which also benefit from shorter flying times and increased airline capacity. Tourism Malaysia’s reduced MENA promotion in 2016 and 2017 has also likely put a damper of things but the new VFS visa service centers in KSA should help boost tourism going forwards.


Top 10 Destinations in Asia Pacific
for MENA-based Travellers

Q1 2018
Country Change from
Q1 2017
1 Philippines +1
2 Indonesia -1
3 Thailand +1
4 Malaysia -1
5 China =
6 Maldives =
7 South Korea +1
8 Australia -1
9 Japan +1
10 Singapore -1


About Wego

Wego, provides award winning travel search websites and top ranked mobile apps for travellers living in the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions. Wego harnesses powerful yet simple to use technology that automates the process of searching and comparing results from hundreds of airline, hotel and online travel agency websites.

Wego presents an unbiased comparison of all travel products and prices offered in the marketplace by merchants, both local and global, and enables shoppers to quickly find the best deal and place to book whether it is from an airline or hotel directly or with a third-party aggregator website.

Wego was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in Dubai and Singapore with regional operations in Bangalore, Jakarta and Cairo.


For more information please contact:

Suha Halaseh

Public Relations Director

Mobile: 00971 50 2825028

Email: [email protected]