The coming-of-age of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)’s young population will reshape the travel industry in the region over the next 15 years, with the tech-savvy generation turning instinctively to mobile technologies and social media to plan, book and manage travel.
Today, nearly 25% of the GCC population is under 15 years of age, and as this demographic becomes tomorrow’s decision makers, traditional travel behaviours will witness a transformation and become increasingly self-directed.
As outlined in the Amadeus-commissioned new report, Shaping the Future of Travel in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Big Travel Effects, additional unfolding demographic factors such as steady inflow of expatriate workers, robust natural population growth and a growing middle class will combine to drive a new and divergent set of travel behaviours and needs in the region.
The report, researched and collated by Frost & Sullivan and Insights and commissioned by Amadeus, examines and contextualises the various ways a new travel landscape will develop in the Gulf region over the next 15 years.
“The Gulf region is poised for a new era of travel as investment in infrastructure, new tourism sectors, and governmental initiatives to ease intra- and extra-regional movement and make the GCC more attractive to leisure and business travellers,” said Antoine Medawar, Vice President, MENA, Amadeus. He added, “Travel providers who address the nuanced needs of the region’s population are likely to thrive in the coming decades. At Amadeus our people, our technology and our innovation are dedicated to helping our customers and partners shape the future of travel in this region.”
Further key findings include:
Economies in the GCC are diversifying beyond oil, and specialist tourism sectors such as cruises, meetings and conferences and medical tourism play a prominent role in this diversification. As a result, the GCC countries have maintained an average GDP growth of over 5% in the past decade, with a greater increase expected in the future.
Tourism will have a trickle-down effect into other sectors, furthering economic growth and diversification. Hospitality and construction in particular will benefit as the number of travellers entering or passing through the region increases – Qatar expects 3.7 million tourists in 2022 around the FIFA World Cup and is investing $20bn on tourism infrastructure and $140bn on transport.
The GCC is working to make travel easier, both within the region and outbound. This is particularly relevant with 33% of the respondents surveyed citing visa issues as a key reason for their inability to travel more often. Improved accessibility within the region and abroad is expected to increase the number of intra-regional travellers to four-fold by 2030.
“Travel in the Gulf region is changing. Economic diversification and a move from oil is an important driver, but there are several subtle factors at play too. Changes in population and geopolitical pressure to open borders and make movement easier are also impacting the future of travel here,” observed Mona Faraj, Managing Partner, Insights.
The report was collated by surveying over 1,000 travellers from the region as well as through interviews with thought leaders in the travel industry. The study highlights the technologically savvy and growing population of the GCC and predicts the emergence of a travel landscape in the region that is highly connected, personalised, and sustainable.
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