Flight searches to the UAE for Expo up 50 per cent compared to pre-pandemic data

Travellers are most likely to visit Expo 2020 Dubai from India and Saudi Arabia, and stay in the Emirates for 23 days

As Expo 2020 Dubai rolls into its fourth day, the six-month event has already attracted the attention of travellers around the world.

Searches for flights to Dubai during Expo 2020 increased in the lead up to the grand opening of “the world’s greatest show”.

“We have seen a huge demand for searches for flights, as searches from abroad to the Emirates increased 330 per cent in the last two weeks of September,” said Mamoun Hmedan, managing director for Middle East and India at Wego.

The online travel company found that flight searches for travel to Dubai during the Expo 2020 period had surpassed searches for flights to Dubai from the same period in 2019, before the global pandemic and its devastating impact on air travel.

“Through our platform, we have also seen an increase in searches for flights for the Expo 2020 period, reaching around 365,000 a week prior to the launch date and an increase of more than 1,000 per cent compared to August.

“It exceeds 50 per cent of the number of searches in the same period in 2019, and this indicates the growing demand for flights to Dubai,” said Hmedan.

Dubai Tourism has said that it expects Expo 2020 Dubai to host more than 25 million local and foreign visitors in its six-month run time.

Travellers who are thinking about taking a trip to Dubai for the event, which runs until March 31, will be pleased to learn that despite a rising interest in flights, airfares remain relatively level.

“We noticed only a slight airfare increase of 3 per cent compared to the same period in 2020, due to the increase in supply and the resumptions of more flights to and from Dubai,” said Hmedan.

Similarly, the travel company said it had not yet tracked any noticeable changes in hotel prices in Dubai in September, compared to August. However, this could change as the UAE rolls into winter.

“There are signs that hotel prices will rise by less than 10 per cent with the approach of winter and the start of the tourism season in the Emirates,” said Hmedan.

Travellers planning a trip to the UAE during the event period can get free tickets to Expo 2020 Dubai when flying with Emirates, Etihad or flydubai. Some hotel groups, including Emaar's Address Hotels and Resorts, are also offering free passes to Expo 2020 Dubai to people booking stays in the next six months.

India and Saudi Arabia lead flight searches

Additional flight search data from Wego shows that people in India are among the most interested in flying to Dubai during the Expo 2020 period. A total of 28 per cent of flight searches originated in the subcontinent.

Saudi Arabia was the second-most interested nation, with 18 per cent of flight search traffic from across the Middle East and North Africa coming from the kingdom.

It seems that a visit to Expo 2020 Dubai is not simply a one or two-day trip, either. Wego found that travellers planning to book flights to head to Dubai during Expo 2020 are coming for longer stays. “The average duration was for trips of 23 days,” said Hmedan.

The majority of searches tracked by the travel company appeared to be for individual flight bookings, which made up 73 per cent of the search traffic.

Pairs of tickets and group bookings accounted for 14 per cent and 13 per cent of searches, respectively.

However, this does not necessarily mean there will be an influx of solo travellers to Dubai, as people often price out coming travel based on one ticket before adding accurate traveller information for their party at a later stage of planning.

Updated: October 4th 2021, 1:03 PM