Gen X Driving GCC Outbound Travel, ATM


The GCC outbound market is forecast to grow exponentially over the next five years, driven by Gen X travellers, according to recent research, says Arabian Travel Market (ATM) which takes place from 6-9 May at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Generation X, those people born between 1965 and 1980 – are leading the significant growth in outbound travel from the GCC countries, according to findings by New York headquartered Research Nester. The report highlights numerous reasons why this generation has a dominant share of the GCC’s outbound market, particularly in the UAE and Saudi Arabian markets.

Commenting on the report, Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market said, “Within an age range of approximately 43 years to 58 years, many Gen Xers hold senior positions within companies and as such tend to travel overseas regularly on business trips.

“In addition, with responsibility comes reward and therefore many have high earning potential and disposable income. Many successful entrepreneurs at this stage in their careers also have built significant wealth and can afford to travel frequently.  

“Many industry commentators are focused on Millennial and Gen Z travelers, but it is perfectly logical that Gen X would dominate the GCC outbound market value given the region’s demographics, particularly expatriate senior management.”  

Members of Gen X are also changing their lifestyles, with considerable numbers now looking for a more sustainable work life balance. This often means spending more leisure time with their families, including holidays and combining business with leisure, which is significantly growing the bleisure segment of travel.

To illustrate these points, Gen X will be responsible for $11.1 billion, 41% of Saudi Arabia’s total outbound market value of $27 billion by 2028 according to the report. It is a similar picture in the UAE. Gen X will spend $18.2 billion, 60% of the total market value of $30.5 billion by 2028.

“It is also worth considering that as this generation begins to age and subsequently retire, naturally it will be Millennials who will begin to dominate outbound market share in the decade ahead,” added Curtis.

Overall, Saudi tourists favour Europe as a destination, accounting for $13.2 billion in market value by 2028, compared with just $7.4 billion in 2019. Other top destinations for GCC travellers include UK, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, US, India, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa.

The trend of increasing outbound GCC business has certainly not gone unnoticed by many international destinations.

“In 2023 we welcomed 76 national pavilions covering approximately 55% of the total show floor space, with 1,350 participating companies.

“This year with the return of national pavilions from Spain and China, as well as a number of African destinations, we have allocated additional floor space to accommodate this growth,” added Curtis.

To support the outbound sector still further, ATM is also organising a market insights summit, covering India, China and Latin America, as well as the latest generational travel trends.

In line with its theme, ‘Empowering Innovation: Transforming Travel Through Entrepreneurship’, the 31st edition of ATM will once again host policymakers, industry leaders and travel professionals from across the Middle East and beyond, encouraging them to forge new relationships, exchange knowledge and identify innovations that can reshape the future of global travel and tourism. From startups to established brands, the upcoming show will highlight how innovators enhance customer experiences, drive efficiencies, and accelerate progress towards a net-zero future for the industry.

More than 40,000 travel trade professionals, including 30,000 visitors, attended the 30th edition of ATM in May 2023, setting a new show record. The exhibition attracted more than 2,100 exhibitors and representatives from over 155 countries, providing a global platform for unveiling ATM’s net-zero pledge.

Held in conjunction with Dubai World Trade Centre, ATM 2024’s strategic partners include Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), Destination Partner; Emirates, Official Airline Partner; IHG Hotels & Resorts, Official Hotel Partner; Al Rais Travel, Official DMC Partner and Rotana Hotels & Resorts, Registration Sponsor.


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