5 May 2014

GTA predicts massive growth potential for Middle East 

GTA predicts continued travel growth for the Middle East as it attends Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. Room nights booked by Middle Eastern travel agents with GTA were up 30% in 2013. The Middle East destination also saw growth in inbound travel, up 5%.

As global travel distributor GTA attends Arabian Travel Market in Dubai (5-8 May 2014), it predicts continued growth for the region, which is already among the company’s most successful. The news comes as data for 2013 shows that overall the number of room nights booked by Middle Eastern travel agents with GTA was up 30% year-on-year.

In particular, sales in Iraq exceeded all expectations with more than a 100-fold increase thanks to the appointment of two preferred sales agents in the country last year. The Turkish travel trade booked more than double the number of room nights, while Yemen, the UAE, Jordan, Lebanon and Bahrain all enjoyed double digit growth in 2013.

Rami Mashini, GTA’s Vice President of Sales for the Middle East & Africa, says: “GTA has been powering global travel for nearly four decades. Our global presence in mature and emerging source markets and the expert relationships our sales teams forge with the travel trade give us the power to help businesses accommodate fully independent travellers on practically every part of the planet.“

Room nights booked by fully independent travellers (FIT) from around the world to the Middle East also grew by 5% last year. The United Arab Emirates remains the most popular of its destinations, according to GTA, and has enjoyed a 10% year on year increase in the number of room nights booked. The top five destinations in the Middle East remain the same as 2012 with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar following the UAE.

More than two-thirds of the top ten Middle Eastern destinations enjoyed year on year growth with Yemen and Bahrain in the triple and double digits respectively. Although just outside the top ten, Iraq saw the number of room nights’ increase by 10%, perhaps as more travellers are looking to discover what the destination has to offer.

James Phillips, GTA’s Vice President of Sourcing for Europe, the Middle East & Africa, says: “As more and more people want to travel to and around the Middle East, travel agents rely on GTA’s sourcing teams to find the accommodation, services, excursions and experiences they most want to enjoy.

“Thanks to the strength of our supplier relationships in this region, high street and online travel agents and tour operators worldwide can book an even greater choice of accommodation for their clients in rising and already popular destinations.”

Powering global travel, GTA’s network generates tens of thousands of bookings for hotels, attractions and other tourism businesses every day. Selling 12 million room nights every year, high street and online travel agents and tour operators rely on the company to source competitive rates for the accommodation, services, excursions and experiences that their customers – the travelling public – most want to enjoy.

GTA has been helping the world’s hospitality and tourism industry reach customers in all parts of the world for nearly four decades. Its reputation for providing relevant and unrivalled global distribution, its financial stability and expertise helps businesses capture opportunities presented by growth markets, while gaining share in established ones.

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THE MIDDLE EASTERN TRAVELLER

Bahrain

Overall, bookings by Bahrain’s travel trade rose 13% last year. Fully Independent Travellers from Bahrain made the UAE their most popular destination in 2013, with bookings to the destination rising by 11%. Thailand remained in second place with bookings up 20% but Turkey fell from third place last year to be replaced by the UK, which enjoyed a 40% increase in bookings. Other significant growth in bookings was to France (+50%) and Malaysia (+34%).

Iran

Overall, bookings by Iran’s travel trade rose 1% last year. Fully Independent Travellers from Iran made the UAE their most popular destination in 2013. A 76% increase in bookings to Turkey saw the destination overtake Italy in popularity last year, pushing the latter in third place. Bookings to Indonesia more than doubled in 2013, pushing the destination ahead of China and putting France out of the top five.

Other significant growth in bookings was to Indonesia, doubling in 2013, while Hong Kong, Portugal and the USA all enjoyed triple digit increases.

Iraq

Overall, bookings by Iraq’s travel trade rose more than 150-fold last year. The United Arab Emirates was their most popular destination, followed by Turkey and Lebanon. Increasingly, Iraqis are also booking travel to Europe with France, the Czech Republic and Spain high on their list.

Iraq is an enormous success story for GTA. Thanks to the appointment of two preferred sales agents in the market, the travel trade is increasingly aware of the wide range of destinations, accommodation, tours, experiences and attractions that can be quickly booked with GTA.

Jordan

Overall, bookings by Jordan’s travel trade rose 32% last year. Fully Independent Travellers from Jordan made the UAE their most popular choice in 2013, followed by the domestic destination. With bookings to Turkey more than doubling, the destination overtook Lebanon in popularity, pushing the latter to fourth place. Saudi Arabia completed their top five destinations. The entire top five enjoyed year on year growth.

Other significant growth in bookings was to Thailand, up 81%, while Malaysia, Germany, France, Spain and the UK all enjoyed double digit increases.

Lebanon

Overall, bookings by Lebanon’s travel trade rose 17% last year. Fully Independent Travellers from Lebanon made the UAE their most popular choice in 2013, followed by Turkey. Their top five destinations remained largely the same as in 2012 with France and Italy in third and fourth place, however 43% growth in bookings to Saudi Arabia saw it replace the USA in fifth.

Bookings to Greece more than doubled last year, while other significant growth in bookings was to the UK, Thailand and Spain. All enjoyed double digit increases.

Saudi Arabia

Fully Independent Travellers from Saudi Arabia made the UAE their most popular choice in 2013, with a 42% increase in bookings to Malaysia edging out the domestic destination as their number two choice. Up 15%, Turkey was fourth most popular after Saudi Arabia itself, while an increase in bookings to the UK saw it replace France at number five.

Other southeast Asian destinations benefited from outbound travel by Saudi Arabian visitors: the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand all enjoyed double digit increases. 

Turkey

Overall, bookings by Turkey’s travel trade rose 160% last year. Fully Independent Travellers from Turkey made the United States their most popular choice in 2013 as bookings more than quadrupled, seeing it rise from sixth place in 2012. Pushing France – 2012’s number one destination – to fifth place, it was followed by the United Kingdom, up 150%. Bookings to the UAE also more than doubled to put the destination just behind third-placed Germany and pushing Italy out of the top five. The entire top five enjoyed year on year, double digit growth.

Other significant growth in bookings was to Australia, which increased more than ten-fold. While the Far East (Thailand and Japan particularly), Eastern Europe also proved particularly attractive with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland all enjoying triple digit increases.

United Arab Emirates

Overall, bookings by the United Arab Emirates’ travel trade rose by a third last year. Fully Independent Travellers from the UAE made the domestic destination their most popular choice again as bookings rose 40%. IN fact the top five destinations remained the same as 2012 with Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Turkey following the UAE. The entire top five enjoyed year on year growth.

An 86% rise in the number of room nights booked in Malaysia made it the seventh most popular and pushed Qatar out of the top ten. Beyond fellow Middle Eastern destinations and outside the top ten, other significant growth in bookings was to Switzerland, up 40% and Austria, up 31%. Room nights booked in Tunisia more than doubled, while Singapore, China, Spain and India all saw double digit increases.

Yemen

Overall, bookings by Yemen’s travel trade rose 44% last year. Fully Independent Travellers from Yemen made the United Arab Emirates their most popular choice in 2013 as bookings increased by 72%. It was followed by Turkey as in 2012, but unrest in Egypt saw that destination fall to fifth place in popularity allowing Malaysia and Jordan to rise one place each. The number of room nights booked in Austria more than doubled last year, while France saw bookings rise by 70%.