Year-over-year (YoY) domestic bookings within the UAE have risen 16% above 2019 levels, said Sojern, a provider of digital marketing solutions for the travel industry, in a new update.
This means that bookings are starting to look more similar to those experienced last year, which was consistently the case through February to March before Covid-19 hit. Since then, levels have mostly been down YoY, it added in its “Covid-19: Insights on Travel Impact, Middle East and Africa - November Overview”.
In recent weeks international hotel searches have also displayed a positive trajectory as travel restrictions to the UAE are lifted or loosened. This could also be a reflection of the region heading into what is traditionally considered the ‘peak season’ in the UAE, with slightly cooler weather, and more tourists planning trips.
Another factor that could be positively impacting search and booking volumes is the recent news shared by the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing of the new virtual working programme for overseas professionals. Opportunities like this will likely continue to drive international travel intent and confidence up.
“By looking into which origins are leading the way in UAE hotel searches we get a clearer understanding of which markets and regions are driving the general upward trend in travel intent to the UAE,” Sojern said in the report.
Domestic searches currently account for 64% of total search events, with intent from top international markets being shown by the USA (5.6%), Russia (4.3%), the United Kingdom (4.0%) and Saudi Arabia (3.2%).
Broken out by flight searches to the UAE the top origin markets are Pakistan and India, accounting for a total of 46% of the total travel intent that has been observed in the past 60 days.
The top 10 origin markets for January travel include the US and the UK and travel within the UAE accounts for 65% of the total hotel searches and bookings into the country, displaying a shift to international inbound travel.
Within the Middle East and Africa, the UAE is a big driver in travel intent to the region. Domestic searches continue to increase in volume, with international travel intent following a similar pattern, but not recovering at the same pace. Some of the key international origin markets for planned travel to the region are the UK and the US, both for current searches, and those for departure dates in January 2021.
“Observing our Sojern Real Time Covid-19 Travel Dashboard, by pegging the index back to the week of 30th March (the beginning of the recovery from the pandemic), we can see positive signs of increasing global travel intent into the region,” the report said.
Searches to the UAE are currently at an index of 0.42 year-to-date (YTD), which is a significant increase in intent since March. Similarly, searches to Saudi Arabia have an index of 0.49, and 0.54 for Qatar, which is leading the pack in the Middle East and Africa in terms of recovery in hotel searches.
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