Thursday, 3 May 2012

Unique Survey Reveals Travel Habits Of GCC Nationals

The findings of a recent study on the outbound travel habits of GCC nationals were released yesterday (Wednesday 2 May) during a session held as part of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2012 seminar series.

Authored by Sunil Malhotra, senior lecturer at the Emirates Aviation College, the study, entitled ‘The Outbound GCC Travel Market - Unique Trends and Characteristics of GCC Nationals’, interviewed 2,500 GCC nationals about their travel habits over a 12-month period from January to December 2011.

(Photo: Sunil Malhotra, senior lecturer at the Emirates Aviation College).

“The results of the survey are an invaluable tool for destinations and exhibitors looking to capture increased market share from this affluent and well-travelled market segment,” said Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organiser of Arabian Travel Market.

Malhotra surveyed a broad demographic of GCC nationals from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. He focused on 20 criteria from travel spend and favored class of travel to destination-specific preferences and decision-maker identification, to present a detailed picture of GCC residents’ habits.

According to the study, Qataris spend the most on travel with an average expenditure of US$4,100 per day, followed by travelers from Saudi Arabia at US$3,360 and the UAE at US$3,280. The breakdown of spend across all GCC nationalities includes 54% allocated to airfares (across all classes of travel), 18% on accommodation, 9% on dining and 5% on car rental.

Compared to the rest of the world, GCC nationals spend 260% more on airfares and 430% on accommodation, but 13% less on car rental. “The class of travel is also important, with 40% of Qataris interviewed opting for first class, and between 40 and 60% of all GCC nationals booking business class,” remarks Malhotra.

The study findings touched on the recurring theme of extended vacations as a major differentiator between this region and the rest of the world, led by Qatari and Saudi Arabian travelers, with stays ranging from 14 up to 56 days.

Decision makers also differ across the region and the six Gulf countries are split into two clear camps, with the wife usually choosing the destination in Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE, while the male head of household has the final say in Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

According to the report summary, 53 per cent of survey respondents will travel to between two and five countries for leisure or pleasure within the next 12 months, with Saudi nationals the most frequent travelers, followed by the UAE. “Cultural experiences and family-focus are the two most important factors when planning travel, with 40 per cent of survey respondents looking at taking an extended three to four-week trip in the next 12 months,” said Malhotra.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, ATM 2012 is being held at the Dubai International Exhibition and Conference Centre and runs through to today (Thursday 3 May)..

A copy of the ‘unique travel trends of the GCC nationals’ presentation is available upon request.

For more information on Arabian Travel Market 2012, please log on to

For more information, please contact: Nathalie Viselé, Director, Shamal Marketing Communications
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Office: +971 4 3652711 I Direct : +971 4 3652712 I Mobile : +971 50 4576525, Fax:+971 4 4278703, E-mail: I Web site:

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