December 1, 2020

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The travel folks

Wego takes pulse on Traveller Intent and Covid Trends in Middle East: Part 1

4 min read

IN the run-up to WiT Middle East on November 25, we present a summary of the Wego Travel Pulse “Covid-19 & MENA Traveller Intent” from November 18. Part 1, Middle East. Tomorrow, North Africa.

MENA Key Highlights

Wego internal, MENA search activity. 100% equals 2019 average
  • Travel search interest in MENA has further decreased and is currently at 32.8% of 2019 levels
  • The rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases in a number of markets worldwide as well as several MENA countries continues to put a downward pressure on travel resurgence
  • North African countries and the countries in Levant area are experiencing a particularly strong second wave of the pandemic leading to new, stricter lockdowns measures to be imposed in a number of places
  • GCC countries have so far been spared yet travel interest remains muted due to border restrictions and health fears
  • Positive news around Moderna and Pfizer vaccine development are encouraging though mass vaccination will take at least until end of Q1 2021.  Test implementation of rapid antigen testing in Singapore and other markets gives further hope of a solution to help travel demand in the near future.

GCC Travel Pulse

Wego internal, GCC search activity by user location. 100% equals 2019 average
Wego internal, GCC search activity by user location.

Travel Demand From KSA

Wego internal, KSA weekly search activity by user location. 100% equals 2019 average
  • With cases of COVID-19 resurging worldwide, interest in international travel remains limited
  • Most interest for international travel continues to be for trips right after New Years’ Eve when KSA will reopen its borders.  Dubai, Cairo, and Istanbul continue to be the top post-NYE destinations
  • After a seven month hiatus, Umrah resumed with some 10,000 pilgrims arriving on 1st November
  • Interest in domestic travel for both flights and hotels remains solid around half of 2019 levels

Covid Trends in KSA

Source: Our World in Data, European Council
  • KSA continues to be doing great in managing the pandemic with all metrics trending in the right direction
  • The pandemic has continued to deteriorate worldwide especially in Europe and USA. While KSA has been meeting EU’s safe criteria for three months now, no European country is meeting EU’s own standards

Travel Demand From UAE

Wego internal, UAE weekly search activity by user location. 100% equals 2019 average
  • International travel remains muted at less than a third of 2019 levels as restrictions are still in place 
  • Interest in flights to Kuwait have steadily decreased throughout October and early November making way for Cairo to become the top international destination.  India remains the top destination. 
  • Domestic hotel stays continue to be the main growth driver, accounting for more bookings than all international destinations combined
  • The top 7 hotel destinations are all UAE cities: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al Khaimah, Sharjah, Fujairah, Al Ain, and Ajman

Covid Trends in UAE

Source: Our World in Data, European Council
  • Test positivity rate continues to be among world’s best thanks to UAE having world’s highest density of testing
  • The number of new COVID-19 cases has finally started to improve over a sustained period

Travel Demand From Kuwait

Wego internal, Kuwait weekly search activity by user location. 100% equals 2019 average
  • Interest for international travel remains mute as travel continues to be heavily restricted 
  • The rapid appreciation of the Turkish lira last week, led to a 33% WoW decrease in travel interest.  Nevertheless, Istanbul remained the top leisure destination from Kuwait for trips involving hotel stays
  • Cairo remains the top flight-only destination thanks to the large diaspora of Egyptians working in Kuwait

Covid Trends in Kuwait

Source: Our World in Data, European Council
  • The number of new cases has largely stabilised as with the number of tests performed is now also stable
  • Test positivity has stopped improving, however, indicating that there is more work to be done to contain the virus

Travel Demand From Qatar

Wego internal, Qatar weekly search activity by user location. 100% equals 2019 average
  • With quarantine rules confirmed to stay for the remainder of 2020, interest in international travel remains mute
  • We are yet to see meaningful impact of the recent announcement for a no-quarantine travel to/from the Maldives and the eased quarantine rules for travel from 23 countries worldwide
  • Interest in domestic staycations remains strong at levels similar to 2019 and is the main driver for travel

Covid Trends in Qatar

Source: Our World in Data, European Council
  • The COVID situation remains stable- new cases continue to be stable
  • After consistent and significant progress over several months, test positivity rate is now increasing once again

Travel Demand From Bahrain

  • Interest in international travel remained largely unchanged in early November
  • Pharmacies are now selling rapid antigen tests for home testing purposes
  • Somewhat hidden behind the overall aggregates, last week saw an increase in interest for hotel stays in UAE, Turkey, and Egypt

Covid Trends in Bahrain

Source: Our World in Data, European Council
  • Bahrain has one of the highest testing rates worldwide catching a lot of the asymptomatic cases 
  • New cases continue to rapidly improve though still in triple figures and the highest among MENA countries
  • Test positivity has continuously improved and is now consistently under 3%- a strong indication that the health situation is under control 

Travel Demand From Oman

Wego internal, Oman weekly search activity by user location. 100% equals 2019 average
  • After the initial post-curfew rebound on 24th October, interest in staycations has remained strong nonetheless.  Interest in domestic stays is higher than all international destinations combined
  • The capital city of Muscat remains by far the top accommodation destination though other cities such as Sohar, Salalah, and Mussanah are also attracting staycation traffic

Covid Trends in Oman

Source: Our World in Data, European Council
  • The number of new cases continues improving
  • Lack of data on testing leaves uncertainty about the overall health situation in Oman

Part 2, North Africa will run tomorrow. To get your free pass for WiT Middle East where we will be delving deeper into the trends unfolding in the region and how that will impact your business, sign up here.

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