Osaka, analogue adventures and sleep tourism among top UAE travel trends in 2024

A Skyscanner report shows that more than half of travellers in the Emirates plan to increase holiday spending next year

Travel searches in the UAE for Osaka have spiked by 305 per cent year-on-year on Skyscanner. Unsplash / Jeremy Santana
Powered by automated translation

More than half of UAE residents plan to spend more on travel in 2024 when compared to this year, with up to 90 per cent saying they will take at least the same number of trips.

That is according to a new report by Skyscanner, Travel Trends: Redefining value through experience in 2024, which was released on Monday.

The data, which was taken in August with a sample of 1,000 UAE respondents, reveals the most popular destinations, travel trends and emerging traveller types.

Budget is a key factor

Value for money is a key factor for UAE travellers, with the cost of the hotel (16 per cent) and flight (32 per cent) being the biggest elements that determine destination choice.

A total of 56 per cent are budgeting to spend more on travel next year than this year, while 31 per cent will spend the same.

For anyone looking for budget-friendly destination, the Skyscanner report also includes the biggest airfare price drops for next year, including Orlando, Florida (a 72 per cent drop), Male in the Maldives (58 per cent drop) and Rome (52 per cent).

Munich, Brussels, New York, Bangkok, Antalya, Istanbul and Los Angeles have all had price drops, too.

Cultural experiences on top

Almost half (42 per cent) of UAE respondents say they now rate the overall “vibe” of a destination as the most important factor when choosing where to go on holiday – even more so than budget friendliness.

The experience factor is powering four trends right now, the report states, including sleep retreats, destinations seen in films and on TV, culinary experiences and catching a music concert.

Sleep retreats are becoming increasingly popular, the Skyscanner reports. Nearly half of UAE travellers (46 per cent) say they’re not getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night, and say getting a good night's sleep is high on their holiday agendas.

About 38 per cent of fans say they would fly short haul to watch their favourite musician live, while 19 per cent would commit to long haul. Thirty-eight per cent of those aged 25 to 34 plan to attend a gig in India next year.

Emily in Paris is providing UAE travellers with the most destination inspiration, with 40 per cent saying they want to experience the French capital like protagonist Emily Cooper, while more than a quarter want to head to Venice Beach like Barbie.

That said, while 92 per cent of UAE travellers say they have been inspired to take a trip based on what they've seen on the big or small screen, only 59 per cent go on to book.

As for restaurants, 46 per cent of UAE travellers say they've visited a destination to go to a specific restaurant, while 46 per cent more say it's something they want to do.

Emerging traveller types

Analogue adventurers is one of the emerging traveller types reported for 2024, which means Gen Z travellers are ditching digital devices in favour of analogue techniques. For example, 26 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds in the UAE are taking Polaroid cameras on holiday with them, 22 per cent take vinyl records and 15 per cent pack a 35mm film camera.

Many passengers from the UAE are also celebrating big milestones on holiday, with 72 per cent having taken a group trip to mark a birthday or anniversary. A further 23 per cent say it's something they would love to do. Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Turkey are the most popular places in the report for friends and families planning to celebrate.

A third type is called “luxe-for-less seekers”, as 37 per cent of travellers are planning to upgrade their flight to business or first class. Forty-two per cent plan to buy airport lounge access.

Osaka is the most favoured destination

While European capitals are trending next year, the list of top 10 destinations UAE travellers are planning to go to starts with Osaka, in Japan, which has had a 305 per cent spike on year-on-year searches.

This is followed by Antalya in Turkey (273 per cent), Tokyo (250 per cent), Rome (154 per cent) and Berlin (96 per cent). Amsterdam, New York, London, Athens and Paris round out the top 10.

Food, attractions and the weather are the three biggest factors for UAE travellers when deciding where to go. Historical tours, heading to the beach and trying local food are the favourite cultural activities.

Other activities being favoured next year include snow sports (21 per cent), sporting events (20 per cent) and heading to a gallery (19 per cent).

“Skyscanner’s 2024 Travel Trends report highlights a growing emphasis on cultural exploration among travellers for the coming year,” said Naomi Hahn, vice president of strategy at Skyscanner. “We're witnessing a diverse range of cultural interests in travel, from music enthusiasts embarking on journeys to see their favourite artists to budget-conscious food enthusiasts seeking the finest culinary experiences without breaking the bank.”

Updated: November 06, 2023, 7:00 AM