December 19, 2012
Dubai, UAE, 19 December 2012 – According to the latest findings of a MasterCard survey, 79% of UAE residents are set to travel for leisure in the coming months, a 9% increase from the 2011 results. The survey also shows that 71% of residents plan to increase or maintain their levels of leisure travel when compared to the previous year, which is 6% higher than the 2011 findings.
UAE residents indicated that they are most likely to travel to Asia-Pacific in the coming months, with 47% of respondents aiming to travel to these markets. Asia-Pacific remains the most popular destination for UAE travelers, though fewer UAE residents are planning trips to the region as compared to 2011 (55%). This is followed by Middle East & Africa (43%) and Europe (10%) as the next most popular destinations. Interestingly, 3% more respondents are planning to travel within the Middle East than in 2011.
In terms of international destination countries India led the pack once more, with 29% of UAE residents aiming to travel there in the coming months. The United Kingdom (10%) and Malaysia (10%) were also high on the list of destinations for UAE travelers. While Malaysia was also a key destination market in 2011, the United Kingdom did not feature in 2011’s top ten destination markets, marking a new trend. In terms of domestic travel, UAE respondents indicated that Fujairah (41%) remains a popular destination, followed by Abu Dhabi (39%) and Ras Al Khaimah (32%).
With respect to inbound travel, the UAE continues to be a popular destination of choice for GCC residents. In Oman, of those inclined to travel internationally, 42% are likely to travel to the UAE in the near future, a substantial increase from 2011’s score of 35%.This is followed by Qatar (32%), Kuwait (20%) and KSA (13%), which also featured as top origin countries for the UAE in 2011.
“It is encouraging to see that a great number of UAE residents plan to travel internationally in the coming months. This is a reflection of the market’s healthy consumer confidence levels, and certainly bodes well for the travel industry. At the same time, the UAE remains a very attractive destination for leisure travelers from around the globe. In fact, the recent MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index ranks Dubai 8th globally in terms of expected inbound international visitors in 2012, while Abu Dhabi is the world’s fourth fastest growing destination city by international visitor numbers,” said Eyad Al-Kourdi, UAE country manager, MasterCard Worldwide.
Other UAE highlights:
- Over the last year, 79% of UAE respondents travelled internationally for leisure, while 50% travelled locally for vacation, marking an increase of 7% for international travel and a decrease of 7% for domestic travel as compared to 2010.
- With regard to business travel, 11% of UAE residents travelled abroad and 9% travelled domestically over the last year. Business travel has decreased since the last survey, when 21% of residents travelled internationally in the previous year, and 19% travelled locally.
- Among the respondents travelling by airlines, national airlines remained the most popular (47%), followed by budget carriers (37%) and international carriers (33%). Interestingly, budget carriers have seen an increase of 23% in popularity since 2011.
- UAE travelers were most likely to stay at luxury hotels (41%) during their business travels, while almost half (42%) of respondents preferred to stay with friends/relatives when travelling for leisure. Luxury hotels have witnessed a 22% increase in popularity for business trips since the last survey.
- UAE travelers enjoy shopping at airports, with 79% of residents indicating that they have purchased items at an airport during their travels in past months. Edible items (53%) and cosmetics/fragrances/personal care (26%) remain the most popular purchases at airports, followed by books/magazines (20%).
- UAE residents are keen to find the best travel deals, and indicated that airline websites (76%) are the most popular outlet to find a bargain. Travel agents (55%) remain popular for bargain-hunters, and some travelers also look for deals in newspapers (12%). Social media (7%) and coupon sites/apps (3%) lag behind when it comes to finding travel deals.
- Not surprisingly, 90% of UAE residents cite their mobile phone as their must-have travel gadget, while 9% won’t leave home without their laptop. One percent must have their MP3 device with them during their travels.
- Cash emerges as the most popular payment choice for UAE travellers in relation to expenses under US$ 100 (59%), transportation (50%) and accommodation (38%). Credit cards are the second most popular method of payment for UAE travellers in relation to the purchase of products over US$100 (41%), transportation (37%) and accommodation (34%). Debit/ATM cards are the least preferred by UAE travelers for all categories. It is worth noting that 11% fewer respondents prefer to pay for accommodation with cash as compared to the previous survey conducted a year ago.
Middle East findings:
- Across the Middle East, consumers from Kuwait (82%) top the list when it comes to the percentage of consumers aiming to travel for leisure internationally in the coming months. They are followed by consumers in UAE (79%), Qatar (77%), Oman (52%), KSA (43%), Lebanon (19%) and Egypt (14%). Kuwait’s top ranking this year takes the place of Saudi Arabia’s position in 2011.
- Budget carriers have gained some presence in the Middle East in the last year, with the majority of consumers in Kuwait and Oman and substantial proportions in other markets using this mode of air travel in past months. National airlines were the most used airlines in the other Middle East countries surveyed.
- Purchases at airports remained popular in the region, with around 75% of Middle East air travelers making purchases in the last year. In general, edible items (45%), cosmetics/ fragrance (32%) and cigarettes/ tobacco (21%) are the most popular categories.
The latest survey was conducted between April and June 2012 with respondents aged 18 – 64 in 25 markets. Data collection was via internet surveys, personal, telephone and Computer Aided Telephone interviews, with the questionnaire translated to the local language wherever appropriate and necessary. The Index and its accompanying reports do not represent MasterCard financial performance.
 Australia, China, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, South Africa, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam
The MasterCard Worldwide Index suite in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa includes the long-running MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence, as well as the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women’s Advancement, Online Shopping, Index of Financial Literacy, and the Index of Global Destination Cities. In addition to the Indices, MasterCard’s research properties also include a range of consumer surveys including Ethical Spending and a series on Consumer Purchasing Priorities (covering Travel, Dining & Entertainment, Education, Money Management, Luxury and General Shopping).
MasterCard also regularly releases Insights reports providing analysis of business dynamics, financial policies and regulatory activities in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region. Over 80 Insights reports have been produced since 2004.
MasterCard has also released a series of four books on Asian consumer insights, authored by Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Global Economic Advisor for MasterCard Worldwide and published by John Wiley & Sons.
MasterCard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Cashless Conversations Blog and subscribe for the latest news.