Wego’s “Middle East Traveller Destination Leaderboard” Shows Destinations Gaining and Losing Popularity
- Egypt, India and Saudi Arabia are the top travel destinations so far in 2019
- Saudi Arabia gains a spot for 3rd position overtaking Turkey
- Dubai remains in the five most popular destinations for Middle East travellers
- Biggest climber among top 25 is Azerbaijan, gaining six spots
- The United Kingdom remains the top European destination – ten months in a row now at #1
UAE, Dubai – 28 April 2019:Wego today revealed its regular “Middle East Traveller Destination Leaderboard” that showcases the relative popularity of global destinations with Middle East travellers. 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 relative destination rankings. The leaderboard announced today covers the first months of 2019. Please contact Wego, as per the details below, if you’d like to receive these updates regularly.
Global Destination Trends
Egypt retains its #1 ranking in Q1 2019 as the most popular international destination for travellers from across the Middle East region with the Egyptian capital of Cairo leading the way as the most searched city destination overall.“We have witnessed steady growth in tourism to Egypt, and this is due to more stability, competitive pricing following the devaluation and new emerging destinations within the country. Travellers are lured by the gorgeous beaches & luxury resorts, pleasant weather, and the greatest collection of ruins, temples, and artifacts in the world,” said Mamoun Hmedan, Wego Managing Director MENA and India. “The Egyptian Tourism Authority has been aggressively promoting the destination across the region in recent years and is seeing good results.”
The next four most visited countries are India, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Dubai with KSA and Turkey swapping places compared to a year ago.
India always ranks near the top of the Destination Leaderboard for a number of reasons less to do with tourism and more to do with business linkages and the number of expats based in the Gulf states returning home to see families.
With the Saudi tourism industry prioritised within the Saudi Vision 2030 plan and set to receive many billions of dollars worth of investment over the next decade, it will be interesting to track The Kingdom’s progress in marching up the Destination Leaderboard and to see if it can dislodge Egypt as the region’s favourite destination.
Turkey is a perennial favourite with Middle East travellers. The devaluation of the Turkish Lira against the US Dollar and Gulf currencies has made Turkey a significantly better value for money destination for Middle East travellers and the travel market has responded accordingly.
Dubai grew 24% year on year and remains among the top five global destinations among travellers from the Middle East. The emirates’ great infrastructure, technological innovation, and dynamic hospitality offerings score high with travellers.
The biggest climber among the top 25 is Azerbaijan. The Central Asian country is proving popular with Middle East travellers thanks to its proximity to the region and Muslim-friendly appeal.
The United Kingdom remains the #1 European destination for Middle East travellers with London the most visited city in Europe. Despite the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, UK has ranked as the top European destination in every month of 2018 with the trend continuing well into 2019.
Azerbaijan which overtook Germany for the #2 spot in the middle of 2018 continues to hold the second place with the west European country at #3. Another strong mover is neighbouring Georgia in Q1 it overtook France as the #4 destination. If Georgia needs to worry about anything, it is Bosnia & Herzegovina. The Balkan country has continuously been raising through the ranks and while it finished behind Georgia and France for the first quarter of 2019, it is ahead of both in April.
Middle East Destinations
Among the Middle East destinations, things have been steady as the top countries kept their ranks during the first months of 2019. Egypt has been and remains the top destination. KSA is also firm at second place the country was overtaken by Turkey in the middle of 2018 as scores of travellers went to bargain hunt in Istanbul and other Turkish cities with the devaluation of the lira. The Turkish lira has remained stable since October and the travel trends have returned to the status quo with KSA second and Turkey third.
Asia Pacific Destinations
While things remain unchanged at the very top of the Asian leaderboard, there have been subtle trends that may play out in the coming quarters. Indonesia started out 2018 as the top APAC destination only to be overtaken by Philippines midway through. With the slippage continuing into 2019, Indonesia might find itself in 3rd place to the current 3rd place Thailand. All three destinations receive a mix of expatriate and leisure tourists from the region, with the tropical beach destinations of Bali, Boracay and Phuket remaining perpetual favourites among Wego users.
More exotic destinations like South Korea and Japan bumped Singapore a couple of spots down in early 2019. The change is partially seasonal, partially organic growth. With the cherry blossom season that starts in late March and continues until early May, the first months of the year typically see an increase in interest to both countries. Beyond seasonality, both Japan and South Korea have embarked on a strategy to actively attract Arab travellers. The Land of the Rising Sun launched infomercials promoting halal tourism and targeting the Arab population through more halal-food restaurants in the country. Similarly, South Korea is also targeting travellers from the Middle East as a strategy to offset a decline in tourist arrivals from neighbouring China.