Saudi Arabia and Egypt join the United Arab Emirates in the list of the top 10 most popular destinations according to the latest data from the Mastercard Economics Institute. In Morocco, travel experiences increased considerably by 117.5% in March 2023.
In 2023, a new post-pandemic travel dynamic has emerged, with travelers wanting to explore destinations closer to home. Thus, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have entered the top 10 of the ranking this year, in seventh and eighth place respectively.
The United Kingdom, the USA, the United Arab Emirates and France remain the most popular international destinations for travelers leaving the Middle East.
The 2023 travel industry trends revealed by the same source indicate that comparing March 2023 to March 2022 specifically, travel experiences have seen a 117.5% year-on-year increase in Morocco.
And from January to March, leisure travel bookings in the UAE grew by 49.5% in 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.
Trends reveal that tourists continue to prioritize experiences and are “showing a new demand for the unique”.
This spills over to lesser-known destinations influenced by social media. “Potentially influenced by social media and entertainment, travelers are landing in lesser-known destinations in search of cultural immersion,” the report said.
Global spending on experiences is up 65%, while spending on things is up 12% from 2019.
In Morocco specifically, the trend towards experiential spending is seeing the greatest increase in the MENA region. “They experienced a considerable increase of 117.5% year-on-year in March 2023”, indicates the Mastercard Economics Institute.
Travel trends reveal that consumers, including those in the Middle East and Africa (MENA), will benefit from a more traditional travel ecosystem in 2023, prioritizing leisure travel and borrowing new corridors around the world.
Additionally, the post-pandemic preference for experiences over things and continued demand for leisure travel are shaping the outlook for 2023.
With an uncertain economy creating turbulence between markets, the reopening of mainland China should support global growth.
Finally, the recovery of travel and entertainment expenses for businesses is on the rise. In the MENA region, travel and entertainment (T&E) spending by small businesses saw a 49% increase when comparing March 2023 to March 2022, data from the research institute shows.
The upward trajectory continues – from January to March 2023, small business spending on travel and entertainment expenses is up 56%.