UAE and UK among world’s top staycation markets amid overseas travel curbs

People in both countries pressed on with holidays despite ban on travelling abroad

New data has shown demand for staycations surged in the UAE this summer, as it did in the UK. AP
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The UAE and the UK were among the world’s top staycation markets this summer as travel restrictions forced millions to scrap plans for international trips.

Statistics from the Global Hotel Alliance, the world’s largest group of independent hotel brands, showed UAE residents warmed to the “living local” trend by opting for more hotel stays within the Emirates.

Many were forced to ditch plans for overseas travel this year due to continuing restrictions but destinations around the world gradually reopened for tourists throughout summer.

Despite this, staycations in many countries surged, showing more people were keen to avoid the uncertainty of trips abroad during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Data for members of the tourism group's GHA Discovery loyalty scheme reveals the top staycation markets were the UAE, Hong Kong, Germany, the US and UK.

Statistics showed 92 per cent of members based in the UAE took a staycation between June and September 2021, compared with 68 per cent during the same period in 2019.

Nearly half – 47 per cent – of customers in Britain went on holiday in the UK, compared with 23 per cent in the summer of 2019.

GHA, which brings together more than 500 hotels across 35 brands and 85 countries, said the average length of a break for members was up 24 per cent.

Asia was the largest staycation region for the hotel group, with domestic stays jumping to 91 per cent during the four-month period in 2021 from 52 per cent in 2019, followed by Europe, with 87 per cent rising from 68 per cent.

One in three members based in the Middle East and North Africa opted for a staycation this summer, compared with 44 per cent two years earlier.

Chris Hartley, chief executive of Global Hotel Alliance, said the company's data from the summer shows people are warming to the idea of a staycation. Photo: Global Hotel Alliance

This year, domestic stays have accounted for 88 per cent of all hotel bookings made by GHA Discovery members.

But when travellers did head overseas, the UAE, which is a six-hour flight from the UK, proved hugely popular and was one of the top five destinations visited by loyalty programme members from both Britain and Germany.

Customers in Britain flocked to the Emirates, as well as Ireland, Malta, Jordan and Norway, data shows.

Chris Hartley, chief executive of GHA, said people were keen to make the most of their circumstances despite Covid-19 travel restrictions.

“In 2021, consumers are embracing opportunities to live life to the fullest, exploring new destinations that are closer to home, revisiting old favourites and demanding more in-hotel experiences, whether they are staying overnight or taking a quick ‘daycation’.

“This is nowhere more evident than in the UAE, where residents are making the most of the outstanding hospitality and destination experiences on their doorstep, as our summer 2021 data clearly reveals.

“We expect this trend to accelerate, buoyed by our hotels hosting Expo 2020 Dubai visitors, and in tandem with this staycation movement, GHA is evolving to meet members’ lifestyle needs, offering a greater choice of hotels locally and overseas and reimagining GHA Discovery to offer more recognition, generous rewards and VIP access to hotel facilities with or without a stay.”

After the jump in demand for holidays at home, GHA said it would be expanding its rewards scheme to make it easier for guests to earn points and use amenities at venues without staying overnight.

Updated: November 22, 2021, 9:07 AM