Middle East travel industry sees recovery as restrictions ease

Published: 9 July 2020 - 7 a.m.
By: Josh Corder
The travel industry across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is starting to show signs of recovery as restrictions throughout the region are being lifted. Marketing technology Sojern prepared the industry outlook on July 6, a day before Dubai reopened its doors for tourists.

For the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, three of the largest travel markets in the region, global flight bookings have been picking up slightly, though not to pre-COVID-19 levels. For Saudi Arabia, flight bookings are around 66 percent lower than 2019 levels, though this is a significant improvement compared to earlier in 2020 where bookings were close to zero. The UAE shares a similar story, having some of the lowest booking volumes back in January, it is now only 76.7 percent lower than the same point last year. Egypt is fairing the best of all, with a considerable surge in bookings recently meaning flight bookings are only down by 59.1 percent.

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On a regional scale, global flight bookings right now are 71 percent lower than the same point last year, but still show improvement compared to March and April when bookings came to a standstill.

Sojern predicts that Kuwait will see some improvements as commercial flights resume from August. Over the coming weeks and months, this will likely have a considerable impact on intent and confidence to travel to the country, as well as on outbound travel. Looking at departure dates for travel planned to Kuwait, searched over the last couple of months, it appears that there is a new spike in interest for travel in August. May and June saw searches for flights to Kuwait peaking for April 2021 departures.

However, leading into July, a noticeable uptick has been recorded for August 2020 departures. It is important to note that although searches are increasing for trips in August, they are still down 39 percent on searches made at the same time last year.

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