ME Travel Trends: KSA Dominates With Hajj Pilgrimage


During the month of Ramadan, one of the countries in the Middle East region that dominated travel interests was Saudi Arabia, according to Q3 Global Travel Insights report released by  Sojern, a performance marketing platform for travel brands.

Similar to last year, the Hajj pilgrimage dominated travel interest in Saudi Arabia, bringing millions of Muslims from around the world to Mecca between September 14 – 21 and generating a whopping 90 per cent increase in travel volume to the Jeddah airport, the main gateway airport for the Hajj. After Saudi Arabia itself, the list of top ten countries with the largest volume of travel intent to Jeddah was topped Egypt and the UK, but also included India and Pakistan at positions six and seven, as the Asian nations with the largest volume of Jeddah-bound travellers.

Based on the rigorous analysis of more than a billion traveler intent data points across the globe, September was the most popular month for booking trips, with 37 percent of all the quarter’s booking taking place that month. Globally, the most searched destinations during the third quarter of the year were: the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Turkey, Thailand, Portugal and Russia. Thailand re-entered the list after a quarter’s hiatus, replacing Greece and Russia remained in top ten for the second consecutive quarter.

While search lead times (the time between first search and travel date) are increasingly shrinking in Europe and North America, the Middle East is ahead of the trend, with the shortest search lead times of all. In Q1 alone, a whopping 23% of all trips had less than seven days between search and departure. That trend seemed to taper off somewhat as the year progressed. One potential explanation for the significantly shorter search lead times is that the average age of the Middle Eastern traveler is younger than in most Western countries. Higher disposable income, which typically brings less advance planning and more spur-of-the-moment travels – could also be a contributing factor.




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