Gulf:new era of travel

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Saudi Arabia will constitute 60 percent of the GCC population by 2030, according to a report which was released during a panel discussion in Dubai. The report says the Saudi population is very tech savvy and 42 percent of leisure travelers plan trips via their smartphones. 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 percent of the GCC population is under 15 years of age, and as this group becomes tomorrow’s decision makers, traditional travel behaviors will witness a transformation and become increasingly self-directed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs 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 behaviors and needs in the region. The report, researched and collated by Frost & Sullivan and Insights and commissioned by Amadeus, examines and contextualizes 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 travelers,” 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.” 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 percent in the past decade, with a greater increase expected in the future. The GCC is working to make travel easier, both within the region and outbound.

This is particularly relevant with 33 percent 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 travelers to four-fold by 2030. According to the report, growing 6 cities across the region, expected to create more than 2 million jobs and attract foreign and domestic investment. The report was collated by surveying over 1,000 travelers from the region as well as through interviews with thought leaders in the travel industry.

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