Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Saudi favorite destination of Mena travelers: Wego

Wego, a leading online travel marketplace and travel app for flight bookings and searches in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), has revealed the relative popularity of global destinations with Middle East travelers.

Wego users search for tens of millions of trips each quarter, and it’s this flight and hotel data that has been analyzed to determine the relative destination rankings. The leaderboard covers the Q4’2023.

Global Destination Trends

KSA retains its #1 position as the top destination for international travel for MENA travelers in Q4’2023. After taking the spot from Egypt last July, the kingdom has retained the top spot for six consecutive months now.

“We are thrilled to witness Saudi Arabia ascend as the foremost destination for travelers in the MENA region in Q4 of 2023. According to Wego’s data, the kingdom stands out as a popular choice among travelers seeking a distinctive cultural experience and the opportunity to explore its diverse attractions,” said Mamoun Hmedan, Chief Business Officer, Wego.

“As for the preferred European destination, the United Kingdom maintains its dominance as the top choice from the Middle East. At Wego, we take pride in facilitating connections between travelers and the best each country has to offer,” said Hmedan.

“We eagerly anticipate sustaining our collaborative efforts with our partners to promote the unique tourism offerings of these countries.”

Rounding up the top three are Egypt and India. Both countries are major source markets for foreign talent and labour for the Gulf region and have consistently held the top spots for international air travel.

Going as far back as 2014, Egypt has consistently been either #1 or #2 and India has invariably taken the #3 spots since 2016.

As is usually the case, we saw more movements in the bottom half of the top 10 where Pakistan has been consistently gaining traction scoring the largest gain of two spots.

And after becoming a very popular destination in Q2 and Q3 when a lot of bargain hunters looked to take advantage of the depreciating lira and escape the summer heat, Turkey has been gradually sliding back to the seventh spot as the currency situation became more stable.

Outside the top 20, Russia and China made big gains jumping +12 and +9 spots reaching 21st and 23rd spot respectively.

Middle East Destinations

Among the Middle East destinations, most countries kept their ranks during the fourth quarter of 2023. KSA and Egypt continue to dominate the top two spots with the UAE firmly in third.

Turkey and Pakistan have been moving in opposite directions. In mid-2022 & mid-2023, the depreciating lira and a more moderate summer weather attracted bargain hunters to Turkey en masse. In recent months, as the lira has maintained a more stable exchange rate, travel interest in the country has somewhat cooled down.

Pakistan on the other hand has been gaining ground in recent months helped by additional flights and fewer travel restrictions and is poised to be the firm #4 Middle East destination for 2024.

European Destinations

The UK has been and continues to be the dominant European destination out of the Middle East occupying the #1 spot for 17 months in a row. In the past two years, the kingdom dropped the torch to Georgia in July 2022, and looks poised to continue to dominate in 2024.

The increased travel activity to Russia that began in August continues and in Q4, the country reached #2 spot in the European section.

On the other end of the spectrum is Bosnia and Herzegovina, which after reaching as high as #2 European destination in July is back outside of the top 10.  The other summer-time favorite, Georgia also experienced a seasonal drop back but as #8 remained inside the top 10 European destinations.

Azerbaijan continues to consistently improve its ranking and was the clear #3 in Q4 having overtaken traditional European favorites France in Q2, Germany in Q3, and Italy in Q4.

Asia Pacific Destinations

With East and South East Asia, the last regions to relax pandemic restrictions, Q4 saw popular Asian holiday destinations like Thailand and Vietnam regain some positions on a year-over-year basis.

At the same time, except for Vietnam growing through the ranks and Thailand consistently the #1 Asian destination, we see little movement in the relative ranks on the Asia leaderboard.

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