Feast of Sacrifice spurs holiday boom

LONDON, 7 August 2019: The 2019 Feast of Sacrifice holiday that closes 12 August delivers a boom in outbound travel from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, according to a report from ForwardKeys.

Based on data from 17 million flight bookings a day, ForwardKeys reveals that forward bookings for this year’s holiday period that started 30 July and will end 12 August are already 10.0% ahead on last year’s holiday that spanned 8 to 21 August.

The top 10 destinations welcoming GCC travellers in order of volume bookings were: Turkey; Egypt; India; UK; UAE; Thailand; Germany; Pakistan; France and Lebanon.

When it comes to growth rates for each destination, the USA topped the list, with bookings up 35.7%.

It was followed by impressive growth rates in Indonesia, (+32.4%); Lebanon (+29.2%); Spain, (+27.5%); Malaysia, (+27.4%); Italy, (+23.9%); Azerbaijan, (+23.5%); Germany, (+22.9%); Thailand (+21.1%) and Jordan (+19.8%).

As for origin market growth, the UAE heads the list, with outbound bookings for the holiday period this year 19.7% ahead of the holiday period last year. Qatar follows it, 14.6% ahead; Kuwait, 13.9% ahead; Bahrain, 4.7% ahead and Saudi Arabia, 4.4% ahead. Outbound bookings from Oman fell behind by 7.2%.

One of the factors behind the high growth in bookings from the UAE has been a push by the UAE government to make international travel easier for its citizens. It has struck deals with other countries to relax visa requirements.

The policy has paid off, as there has been substantial growth in travel from the UAE to the countries with relaxed entry requirements.

These are Russia, 279.1% ahead; South Africa, 46.3% ahead; China, 26.3% ahead; Pakistan 19.7% ahead and Canada, 14.9% ahead.

ForwardKeys market research manager Luis Millan, said: “This is really good news. With the exception of Oman, all the major outbound markets are showing healthy growth, and the same is true for the destinations. The one exception is India. It has suffered from the collapse of Jet Airways; however, various low-cost carriers have increased their seating capacity to meet the likely additional demand.”