The United Arab Emirates has succeeded in boosting the length of time that travellers stay in the country using longer layovers and connections between Europe and America with Asian destinations. The fastest growing group is now those staying between six to eight nights, according to ForwardKeys which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 16 million booking transactions a day.
Although short stays – one to three nights – represented 67% of arrivals during the last 12 months, stays longer than three nights grew more quickly.
Details of the analysis will be presented at the influential 13th Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai April 25 to 27, organised by Bench Global Business Events.
The figures – partly fuelled by the 96-hour visa for any airline traveller in Dubai – will be seen as good news by industry leaders gathering at AHIC, which each year hosts more than 700 of the most powerful people in the hospitality sector.
Olivier Jager, CEO, ForwardKeys, said: “These findings show significant progress in the UAE’s attractiveness as a destination and further potential advancement for the UAE economy. I’m sure the details will fuel interesting discussions at AHIC.”
Bench events Chairman Jonathan Worsley, said: “News of this trend will also be welcomed by delegates at another of our upcoming events in the UAE, the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF). The hospitality sector in the UAE is closely linked with airline activity, so these figures, revealing longer stays, will mean more revenue for hotels and restaurants located there.”
The ForwardKeys data shows that overall bookings for short stays – one to three nights – are currently running ahead of last year for April and May while June is lagging behind because of the quieter Ramadan period. Forward bookings from the UK, France and Indonesia remain strong.
The UK, USA, and Kuwait all contributed to the growth of both short-stay and long-stay travellers to the UAE. Chinese arrivals for long-stays boomed when the free-of-charge, visa-on-arrival was introduced for them in November 2016. The Chinese also flocked to the UAE for their New Year 2017.
Looking ahead, bookings for long stays in Dubai are currently more than 28% ahead of last year, driven by European and US travellers planning Easter and Spring holidays. Russians will also be arriving in increasing numbers, not only for the Easter weekend, but also in late April and early May for Spring holiday, Labour Day and Victory Day. Saudi Arabia also contributes to the Easter booking surge – possibly due to expats living there taking a break in the UAE.