UAE travelers prefer regional destinations this holiday season

Most people think of Europe when looking for a winter getaway, however, the upcoming holiday season sees a change as UAE residents choose nearby regional destinations over far-flung popular winter holiday cities, according to a new report released today.



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A paradise for nature-lovers, Sri Lanka continues to be one of the favorite vacation hotspots with increased flight bookings to Colombo followed by the capital city of Oman, Muscat for its rich heritage, dazzling souks, superb seafood and close proximity to the country’s breathtaking scenery and diverse terrain including majestic mountains, dramatic deserts, sandy beaches and serene coastlines.

Vibrant and fascinating historical cities such as Istanbul in Turkey and Baku in Azerbaijan are amongst the top five destinations that UAE residents are planning to explore during the end of November-December holidays. Interestingly, the data also shows growth in the number of people heading to London, probably to experience magical festivities and snowy winters.

As per the flight bookings, majority of UAE holiday makers are traveling for an average period of 9 days to either explore destinations that are affordable and relatively short flight away from the UAE or visit their hometowns in Beirut, Amman and Cairo.

In terms of travel trends for the upcoming holiday season, there is a boom in flight bookings to regional and close-to-home destinations as UAE residents and citizens explore Oman, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka. Although low-cost airlines continue to gain popularity amongst travelers with their value-for-money fares, the full-service airlines have emerged as the preferred choice with 43% of total bookings.

UAE residents are opting for extended holidays with the average length of hotel stays up from 4 to 6 days compared to 2018. The data also indicates robust growth of 15% in demand for three-star accommodations with 34% bookings as compared to 19% in 2018. Upscale four-star hotels have also increased in popularity with 2% as opposed to luxurious 5-star hotel reservations that declined by 18% to 21% versus 39% last year as increasing numbers of people explore distinct experiences with mid-range and budget hotels.

Full-service airlines appear to be the most successful category in air travel amongst UAE nationals and residents for end-of-the-year holidays. The demand for full-service network carriers have soared by 11% as 43% customers booked a full-service flight versus 32% in 2018. On the other hand, the low-cost carrier bookings dropped by 11% to 57% from 68%.

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