UAE, Saudi rank in top 10 world Digital Traveler Rankings

November 26, 2017 11:00 am

The UAE ranks 8th in the league table of 19 countries surveyed, lying just behind Saudi Arabia (ranking 5th), as one of the most digitally-dependent traveler nations.

According to The Global Digital Traveler Research 2017, undertaken by Travelport’s Digital Traveler Rankings, the UAE has been ranked ahead of countries including the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan.

Travelport is a travel commerce platform providing distribution, technology, payment and other solutions for the travel and tourism industry. Travelport’s ‘The Global Digital Traveler Research’ was an online survey covering 19 countries globally and was restricted to people who had taken at least one return flight last year. In total, there were 11,000 respondents from the 19 countries.

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By combining the main indicators of digital usage by travelers in each country, Travelport created a league table to show who are the most and the least digitally-dependent among the nations surveyed. The findings reflect overall smartphone, fixed-line and mobile Internet penetration levels locally.

There are some striking differences in digital travel behavior between the countries in the survey. Some people are heavily reliant on mobile technology while others are less

digitally dependent when planning and making their journeys, the results show.

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In the research, UAE travelers admitted to using an average of 18 different categories of apps, higher than the global average of 16. Of these, maps and video apps are the most popular with (88%) of travelers admitting to using them, and a further 46% saying they can’t live without map apps.

These are closely followed by social media (87%) and instant messaging (82%), showing how travelers like to keep in touch while they are away.

When it comes to booking travel, 48% of leisure travelers book their trip on a smartphone. This is significantly higher than countries such as Canada (22%) and the UK (17%), supporting the high digital ranking of the UAE when traveling.

Getting the best advice

Travelers in the UAE use a variety of methods for researching their trips, both online and offline. Peer-to-peer review sites are particularly popular, with 82% of travelers saying that they consult them before making a booking.

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Whilst review sites have the most influence, 40% of travelers don’t know if they can trust the reviews, and it may be this lack of trust which makes 43% choose travel professionals to

help them decide. However, 79% of travelers in the UAE leave reviews themselves, supporting the fact that review sites are seen as an important source of information.

Travel experience

The digital travel experience is now a major influencer of airline and hotel bookings for residents of the UAE, according to the Travelport.

The research revealed nearly two thirds (62%) of UAE travelers now seriously consider the digital experience on offer when selecting an airline, with digital boarding passes and e-tickets high up their wish list (both 65%).

While the number who looks for a good digital experience when selecting a hotel is lower (46%), its importance was underlined by the fact that two thirds (66%) of respondents said they actively avoid destinations that still charge for WIFI, the report noted. 


Sunil Kumar Singh
By Sunil Kumar Singh
Sunil is a digital-savvy journalist and a leader in managing and integrating print & digital content in UAE, the Gulf and India. Sunil is an innovative editor with over 14 years' experience in digital content marketing, leading team and ability to deliver quality content for both print and new media.