Half of UAE travellers struggle to switch off while on holiday, study says

New research from Priority Pass finds more than a quarter check their phone at least every 30 minutes

Half of UAE travellers struggle to disconnect from digital devices while on holiday. Photo: Nadine Shaabana / Unsplash
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Nearly half of UAE residents – 49 per cent – find it difficult to truly switch off from everyday life while on holiday, research from airport experiences programme Priority Pass has shown.

The study, which surveyed 8,500 people across 11 countries, also found one in three people globally experience “the fear of switching off”, or Foso, as the researchers refer to it.

People travelling from the UAE are among the least likely to disconnect from digital devices, they found. About 58 per cent found it hard to put their phones down overall and that figure rises to 61 per cent among millennials.

Fifty-seven per cent struggle to stop checking work-related mail and more than a quarter check their phone every 30 minutes or less, which is 10 per cent more often than the global average.

While more than a third said they can disconnect at first, it doesn't take long before they feel the need to check back in.

Switching off before travel is key

The research also sought to find out why people struggle to switch off. About six in 10 travellers said that it's related to preflight issues, but these can be counteracted by some airport services.

For example, 53 per cent said visiting an airport lounge improved their chances of being able to relax during previous trips. More than half of the travellers from the UAE said shopping duty free helps, as does indulging in food and beverage before a flight (41 per cent).

“We all know that being able to switch off and get away from the stress of every day is more important than ever,” said Christopher Evans, chief executive of Collinson International, owners of Priority Pass.

“That is why so many are turning to travel. However, our research shows that Foso is real.”

Priyanka Lakhani, a senior vice president in commercial working in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Collinson International, added: “For some, ‘that holiday feeling’ associated with travelling begins long before arriving at the airport. However, our study tells us that this is not often the case. That is why we have done a deep dive to understand the differing behaviours and attitudes of travellers globally.”

To conduct the research, data company Dynata carried out an online market research survey between August 4 and 16, collecting 1,000 responses each in the US, UK, Thailand, Singapore, India and Hong Kong, and 500 responses in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

The ideal trip for UAE travellers

The Priority Pass study also asked respondents to share what their perfect travel excursion would be. For travellers in the UAE this was a trip to the beach, followed by a city break, safari or camping trip – while the ideal amount of time for a holiday is one week.

Another recent study revealed 90 per cent of UAE travellers are also looking to travel more sustainably this year.

The research, from online travel agency Booking.com, gathered data from more than 33,000 travellers across 35 destinations, including 500 from the UAE.

It found sustainability features in 93 per cent of UAE respondents' travel plans, with increasing efforts to make trips greener, while nearly two-thirds of UAE travellers aim to leave places they visit in a better state than when they arrived.

Updated: September 28, 2023, 6:32 AM