The ‘living local’ trend is gaining momentum in the UAE as residents explore the range of luxury travel opportunities close to home, according to new data by Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), operator of the loyalty program for independent hotel brands, GHA Discovery, featuring more than 500 hotels across 35 brands in 85 countries.
Data on summer travel behaviors from GHA Discovery members in the UAE, where GHA is headquartered, reveals that 92 per cent took a staycation from June to September 2021, compared to just 68 per cent during the same period in 2019.
Keen to make the most of GHA’s UAE portfolio, which includes 23 properties across seven brands – Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, Avani Hotels & Resorts, JA Resorts and Hotels, Kempinski Hotels, Mysk Hotels, Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts and Oaks Hotels, Resorts & Suites – members took longer local breaks too, with the average length of stay up 24 per cent in 2021 versus 2019.
Bigger picture data reveals the Middle East and North Africa as the third-largest staycation market globally this summer, with 75 per cent of GHA Discovery member stays being domestic from June to September 2021 compared to 44 per cent in the same four months in 2019.
The largest staycation region was Asia, with domestic stays jumping to 91 per cent during the four-month period in 2021 versus 52 per cent in 2019, followed by Europe with 87 per cent versus 68 per cent, respectively.
GHA CEO Chris Hartley said: “In 2021, consumers are embracing opportunities to live life to the fullest, exploring new destinations that are closer to home, revisiting old favorites, and demanding more in-hotel experiences whether they are staying overnight or taking a quick ‘daycation’.
“This is nowhere more evident than in the UAE, where residents are making the most of the hospitality and destination experiences on their doorstep, as our summer 2021 data clearly reveals.
“We expect this trend to accelerate, buoyed by our hotels hosting Expo 2020 Dubai visitors, and in tandem with this staycation movement, GHA is evolving to meet members’ lifestyle needs, offering a greater choice of hotels locally and overseas and reimagining our Discovery programme to offer more recognition, rewards and VIP access to hotel facilities with or without a stay.”
GHA Discovery members demonstrated an overwhelming desire to live local, with domestic hotel visits accounting for 88 per cent of all stays globally in 2021. When they did venture overseas, the UAE proved popular. Within a six-hour flying time of both the UK and Germany, it was one of the top five destinations visited by members from both countries this summer.
With member data confirming the staycation trend’s prominence and a separate GHA survey revealing members want to get away more often and gain access to places and experiences, it is preparing to expand its portfolio of properties and enhancing the loyalty program.