In a recent report by the Mastercard Economics Institute, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have joined the UAE among the top 10 most popular destinations among first-time travelers. This announcement marks an unprecedented event since the commencement of the Institute’s surveys on the world’s leading travel destinations.
A statement issued by MasterCard today unveiled their ‘Travel Trends Report 2023′, providing a global perspective on travel trends amid continued economic shifts, the recent reopening of Chinese borders, and a rise in consumer travel demand, including those from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The report indicates that travelers globally are relishing the revival of conventional travel systems this year. They are prioritizing vacation travel experiences and are keen on discovering new global destinations.
The relentless pursuit of leisure travel has surfaced as the most significant tourism sector development for the year 2023, as outlined in the statement.
Additionally, the report noted a resurgence in business travel, which took the second spot immediately following leisure tourism. This uptick was noticed particularly in the second half of 2022, especially among cultures emphasizing a return to office work.
Amid economic uncertainties affecting various global markets, China’s border reopening is anticipated to spur the expansion of the worldwide travel industry, as articulated in the MasterCard Institute statement.
Global leisure and business travel are now growing at the same rate, a 42% year-over-year-to-date change from 2022 to 2023.
In the second half of 2022 into early 2023, corporate flight bookings caught up to leisure in regions with a strong return to office culture. From January to March 2023, leisure travel bookings in the UAE were up 49.5% compared to the same period in 2022.
In 2023, a new dynamic emerged, with travelers exploring destinations closer to home. Egypt and Saudi Arabia made the top 10 rankings this year, in seventh and eighth place, respectively. The U.K., U.S., UAE, and France remain the most popular international destinations for travelers leaving the Middle East.
Preference for experiences over things persists, and travelers worldwide are demonstrating new demand for the unique. Potentially influenced by social media and entertainment, travelers are landing in lesser-known destinations in search of cultural immersion.
Global spending on experiences is up 65% while spending on things is up 12% compared to 2019. In the MENA region, experience-oriented spending is surging in certain countries, such as Morocco, where it was up a whopping 117.5% year-over-year by March 2023.
In the MENA region, travel and entertainment (T&E) spending by small businesses was up 49% when comparing March 2023 to March 2022. The upward trajectory continues – from January to March 2023, T&E spending by small businesses is up 56% compared to the same period in 2022.
When comparing March 2023 to March 2019, spending is up 78% in MENA. Large businesses observed growth as well, but at smaller rates of 14%, 40%, and 37% respectively for the corresponding periods.
To sum up, the 2023 Travel Trends Report by MasterCard underscores the increasing appeal of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE among first-time globetrotters, emphasizing these nations’ standing in the international travel sector. The report also brings to light wider trends, including a rise in leisure tourism and business travel resurgence, shaping the travel industry in these evolving economic conditions.