Wego and Cleartrip Travel Insights Report delves into traveler sentiments and readiness to travel in a post-COVID world. These findings were derived from an independent research and data on MENA travelers’ behavior.
Around 4,390 residents from UAE and KSA were asked about their thoughts, and behaviors surrounding travel for the report. It also highlights the impact of COVID-19 on travel, the trends currently being witnessed and positive signs of recovery.
The near-term outlook for travel looks favourable, and people are looking to spend more and travel longer in 2022.
After numerous lockdowns, never ending changes in restrictions and the constant updates on flights, airport protocols and hotel capacity changes, a lot of passengers are still eager to travel albeit being a bit more cautious.
Out of the total survey respondents, 99 per cent said they were vaccinated while only 1 per cent said they weren’t. The increase in the number of vaccinated people has had a positive impact on travel and gives reassurance for people to travel more to the countries that have high vaccination rates.
Forward look and planning a trip
As more restrictions are eased worldwide, and vaccinations rates have increased, people are eager to travel more and make up for the lost time. According to Wego, in 2022, flights and hotel searches increased by 81 per cent in February and 102 per cent in March. This is testament that people are looking to travel more.
Lower risk destinations that guarantee an easy return have been prioritized. The majority of the respondents have opted for destinations which are perceived to be safe and where COVID19 protocols have been adhered to.
Remote work and increase in hotel bookings
With more people continuing to work remotely in 2022, hotels are seeing a great demand regardless of seasonality. People can work from anywhere and are booking more hotel stays based on their new remote work destination.
As a result, Wego saw a spike in the number of searches on holiday homes 136 per cent, hotel apartments 92 per cent and apartments by 69 per cent. The length of stay has increased by 19 per cent in 2022 in comparison with 2021.
People are also opting for 5-star hotels who follow stricter measures and give them a safer travel experience. Wego saw an increase of 66 per cent in searches for 5-star hotels.
During these unusual times, airports across the globe have implemented necessary measures to ensure passenger safety. Travel experience has improved however it is still not as convenient as it used to be pre-COVID.
Trip Expenses and Likelihood to travel + Summer travel
79 per cent of respondents from Cleartrip’s survey witnessed an increase in Covid19 requirements, sore in ticket prices and unexpected circumstances leading to flight changes, which contributed to a 20 per cent increase in their trip expenses post-COVID-19. 78 per cent of respondents are likely to travel and have trips planned, at least once in the next three months. The near-term outlook for travel looks favorable.
According to Wego’s data, summer 2022 will be all about long holidays and travelers will be spending more on leisure travel to make up for the lost time.
Travelers are still aching to travel but additional factors are now considered while planning a trip. Destination cases, travel requirements and ease to move around all currently play a major role.
As to the most popular destinations respondents plan to visit, the following look to remain tourism powerhouses, namely UAE, KSA, Maldives, United Kingdom, Georgia, Turkey, Serbia, Seychelles.
Average Airfares and average booking value 2022
Wego and Cleartrip see an increase in the average Airfares in 2022 compared to 2019. The average round-trip fares to and from the UAE have increased by 23 per cent. Round-trip airfares to the MENA region increased by 20 per cent. Round-trip airfares to Europe increased by 39 per cent while the round-trip airfares to South Asia increased by 5 per cent.
For India specifically round-trip fares have witnessed a 21 per cent increase as compared to 2019.
In the UAE, the average flight cancellations in 2019 were 6-7 per cent pre-COVID19. At the onset of the pandemic, the cancellations witnessed a considerable spike and were as high as 519 per cent (During this period very few bookings were made coinciding with a large volume of cancellations from past bookings). In April 2021, the closure of the Asian corridor once again led to a rise in cancellations. However, in 2022 with travel recovering the cancellations are slowly moving back to pre-COVID19 figures at 7-8 per cent, with a small spike during the January to February wave. A similar trend was witnessed in the Saudi market.
Most booked destinations
From UAE, the popular destinations were India, Pakistan, Egypt, Qatar, Nepal, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Georgia, Turkey. For Saudi Arabia domestically, it was Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, Jazan, Madinah and Tabuk while international were to Egypt, UAE, Qatar, Philippines, Bangladesh, Bahrain.
From MENA, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India, UAE, Turkey, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco were the most booked destinations.
The rise of the pandemic also showed a sudden spike in share of near-time bookings (0-3 days) and a steep drop in the average number of days between booking and the actual travel date. This was due to the unpredictable changes that COVID19 brought from sudden border closures to heightened restrictions.
In 2022, travelers are significantly more comfortable planning travel in advance after more streamlined processes have been put in place. Although subsequent waves at the end of 2021 did cause another spike in bookings made close to travel dates even with simplified travelling prerequisites.
Journey Type and leisure Holidays
The pandemic brought out an increase of unpredictable scenarios and with expats readjusting their work and family plans, the proportion of one-way trips spiked during the early months of the pandemic. Cleartrip also saw a corresponding decline in round trips. Round trips and, more specifically, leisure travel, have rebounded significantly in the recent months.
In KSA, the share of KSA domestic travel has been observed to increase during periods of increased travel restrictions. Same trend has been observed for One Way trips. Wego recorded over 65 per cent increase in flight searches for leisure trips between January – April 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. Searches for hotels surged by 29 per cent between January – April 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.
According to Wego, the overall trip duration has increased, and people are looking for longer trips. 4–7-day trips saw an increase of 100 per cent whereas the demand for 8–11-day trip rose by 75 per cent.