GCC online travel market to reach $15 bln by 2023: report
The online travel market in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is expected to reach $15 billion, an increase of 140 percent from its current levels, by 2023, according to MENA Research Partners.
Annually, the GCC e-travel market is projected to grow by 20 percent during the period 2019-23. The online travel market growth rate is well above the conventional travel market which is progressing at four percent per year.
Compared to global figures, the online travel market in the region remains untapped.
Presently, the online travel sector only accounts for five percent of the total GCC travel market compared to the global average of 12 percent.
“Demographic changes and changes in consumer preferences are largely shaping the upsurge of the e-travel market. The growth in the e-travel sector is expected to come from the larger number of young and tech savvy travelers who embrace the digital ecosystem to plan and book their journeys,” said Anthony Hobeika, chief executive officer at MENA Research Partners.
“These travelers have high expectations, demand personalized offers and do extensive online research before purchasing. Our estimate shows millennials at 20 million, accounting for a massive 40 percent of the GCC population, which further indicates a growth in expected demand by this segment,” he added.
The advanced digital infrastructure in the region is another driver for growth and a key catalyst as the region embarks on long-term advancement from its current low e-travel activity base. The Internet connectivity rates in the GCC have crossed 90 percent in countries such as UAE and Bahrain, while rapidly expanding in other demographic heavyweights like Saudi Arabia.
Along with high connectivity, smartphone penetration in the GCC stands at more than 75 percent, a number which is among the highest in the world.
Smartphones are the most popular devices for researching travel offers and online information, and the mobile travel market is expected to further expand the digital travel space in the GCC, Hobeika said.