Travellers in the UAE are planning more last minute trips and taking shorter holidays, according to global online travel company Cleartrip. The days of spending months planning for a two or three week summer vacation are on the decline, with travellers across the GCC now more likely to take shorter, more frequent trips.
So where are they going?
Top summer destinations
When it comes to number of travellers, Egypt took the top slot. Cairo was the top summer destination for trips from the GCC this year. India's Kochi was the second-most popular destination, closely followed by Manila.
Other destinations that peaked traveller interest this year were Istanbul, with searches on Cleatrip up 62 per cent from last year.
Sylhet in Pakistan, Boston in the US and Nepal's Kathmandu were also among trending destinations, as was Manchester in the UK, which saw a 29 per cent increase in traffic.
Amit Taneja, chief business officer at Cleartrip, told The National that these newly trending destinations were largely down to the younger generation of travellers.
"A lot of this has to do with where airlines are putting capacity, so obviously Emirates now flies to Manchester and that increases interest there, but it's also that travellers, especially millennials want to travel more, but don't want to keep going to the same destination.
They don't want to do the same as their parents who booked to go to the same place every summer. They're looking for new experiences and want to explore more," explained Taneja.
According to Cleartrip, 32 per cent of UAE travellers booked trips lasting between one and six days this summer, compared to just 12 per cent who booked holidays lasting two to three weeks. People are also travelling more often, with the average person taking two trips in the first half of the year.
The majority of UAE travellers are also booking flights less than eight days ahead of travel, with 38 per cent of mobile users and 31 per cent of desktop users making last minute bookings.
Same-day bookings were also on the up, especially on mobile devices. Last minute flight reservations accounted for 3 per cent of all bookings from across the GCC on Cleatrip in the first half of 2019.
Credit or debit?
If you've been feeling guilty about putting a recent holiday on your credit card, you might be relived to hear that you're not alone. In fact, most travellers in the UAE pay for their holidays using credit cards than any other means, with 69 per cent of trips booked in this manner. Only 23 per cent of UAE travellers booked trips using debit cards.
That being said, travellers aren’t necessarily spending recklessly on credit cards. UAE-based Cleartrip customers are the most value conscious in the GCC, with 32 per cent booking trips using special promotions, coupons or discounted codes. Conversely, less than 15 per cent of travellers in Saudi Arabia searched for special offers when booking travel and 44 per cent of bookings from the Kingdom were paid by debit card.
Now is a good time to travel for anyone looking to take advantage of declining airfares across the GCC. Domestic Saudi travellers have seen the biggest drop in flight prices, with summer fares from Riyadh to Dammam decreasing by 25 per cent in 2019, compared to the same period last year.
The UAE has also seen reduced fares between Dubai and Jeddah, with prices down by 12 per cent compared to 2018. From the capital, fares from Abu Dhabi to Kozhikode in the south Indian state of Kerala, saw the biggest drop in fares, down 10 per cent compared to the same period in 2018.
But it’s not all good news. The grounding of the Boeing 777 max has impacted some routes as has the closure of Jet Airways and other issues in the Indian aviation market. This has resulted in increased flight prices from the UAE to certain cities in India.
Fares from Sharjah to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh have risen by 38 per cent compared to last year, and from Dubai to Delhi there’s been a 33 per cent jump in ticket prices overall.