|Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi ArabiaMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News |
April 29--JEDDAH -- Top spenders abroad are the Saudi nationals, spending an average of $ 6,666 per trip, according to Visa's latest Global Travel Intentions Study 2013.
Travelers from the Middle East and Africa (MEA) are spending an average of $ 218 per day during their trip -- slightly lower than the global average of $ 239 per day.
Compared to the Saudis, Australian ($ 4,118) and Chinese travelers ($ 3,824) are also not far behind.
Future travel budget increases are especially high among Asian markets with a predicted increase of 46 percent -- travelers from Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong all plan to at least double the budget of their last trip in the future.
The survey reveals that the increasing popularity of the MEA is partially driven from within the region. Among travelers across the four global regions (APAC, the Americas, the MEA and Europe), respondents from the MEA indicated strong intention (76 percent) to travel more in the future -- primarily residents from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.
Much of this increased travel is expected to take place within the region and Asia where 24 percent of travelers in the region having chosen to take trips in the last two years.
The Visa study also revealed that global cross-border tourism is thriving and travelers intend to increase budgets for their next trip by an average of five percent -- with some holidaymakers even suggesting that they would more than double what they spent on their previous trip.
Visa's regular barometer of travel trends indicates budgets are no longer among the top three reasons behind why travelers choose their next holiday destination.
The pull of attractions, scenery and rich culture are instead stronger reasons for travel.
According to the study, which surveyed 12,631 travelers from 25 countries, the average global travel budget of $ 2,390 per trip is set to increase to $ 2,501.
Ross Jackson, head of cross-border in Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa at Visa, commenting on the findings said: "Global economic woes have been well-documented over the past few years but our Visa Global Travel Intentions Study 2013 hints at a change in both the financial landscape and consumer mindset, suggesting either economic recovery or a growing appetite for larger travel budgets. Both provide excellent news for everyone involved in the global travel and tourism industry."
Jackson said: "Understanding these changes is key for facilitating collaboration, encouraging informed engagement, and promoting growth across the travel industry. We have been running the Travel Intentions study since 2006 as our contribution to increasing the collective level of information the industry can use to make intelligent decisions to benefit the traveler and the industry at large. Visa is committed to using the results to identify changes and developments to better understand the travel and tourism environment."
Attractions, scenery, and culture were cited as the key drivers for a future trip regardless of destination.
This desire to explore new horizons was evidenced by the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, which revealed that international tourist arrivals grew by four percent in 2012 to reach 1.035 billion.
Visa's study revealed the US ranked as the most popular destination choice for global travelers, both for trips taken in the past two years (17 percent) and for intended travel in 2013 (10 percent).
Other top destinations in 2011 and 2012 included the UK(12 percent), France (12 percent) and China, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong (all 10 percent).
Looking ahead, regional travel is set to increase with Egypt, Turkey and France emerging on the latest list of most preferred destinations for future travel for residents in MEA.
An increasing ease and availability of travel options is fueling the tourism boom. This is particularly prominent in the airline industry where 85 percent of travelers prefer to fly to their destinations despite a preference for shorter distances.
Of this figure, most (71 percent) chose to fly economy class while, perhaps surprisingly, only 16 percent chose budget airlines.
The results of the study paint a picture of today's global traveler.
They are seasoned travelers, with 79 percent traveling in the past two years, taking 1-2 trips per year.
About 80 percent plan their holidays in advance, taking an average of 10 weeks to organize the trip. Spending time with family and friends was cited as the most popular (38 percent) reason for a holiday.
These trips are more likely to be organized independently (42 percent) and will last an average of 10 nights. They choose hotels of four stars and above (39 percent) with 69 percent choosing to take a trip with family members.
(c)2013 the Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
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