Ramadan travel falls short

SINGAPORE, 17 April 2023: Despite positive recovery trends, Ramadan travel this year remains far behind the heights it reached before the pandemic in 2019, according to ForwardKeys vice president insights, Olivier Ponti.

However, a major factor in assessing the recovery of Ramadan travel is the dates when the festival falls due. In 2019 Eid al-Fitr was in June, a much better time of the year to travel, as the end of Ramadan was close to the start of the long summer school holidays in Saudi Arabia.

That said, as of 31 March, outbound flight bookings from the GCC states for the three weeks running up to Eid Al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, were 38% behind where they were in the equivalent period in 2019; and for the three weeks after Eid al-Fitr, they are 67% behind.

GCC outbound flight bookings for the peak Ramadan holiday period, 14 to 24 April, are better, 32% behind 2019. Flight bookings from Saudi Arabia are 44% behind but travel from other major GCC countries is recovering stronger, with Kuwait 27% behind, Qatar 11% behind, UAE 6% behind and Bahrain 2% ahead.

Flight bookings to GCC countries are more encouraging, currently 12% behind 2019 data. The major drag is travel to Saudi Arabia, where flight bookings are 40% behind levels reached in 2019, and bookings for Kuwait are 43% behind. However, bookings for Bahrain are 16% ahead, and Qatar, UAE, and Oman are 39%, 47% and 48% ahead, respectively.

Analysis of where Ramadan holidaymakers from GCC countries are going reveals that the top trending destination is the Maldives, 177% ahead of 2019. It is also benefitting from a surge in affluent visitors, as evidenced by a nine-percentage point increase in the share of premium cabin bookings. Qatar follows it, 91% ahead, Thailand 65% ahead, the Netherlands 37% ahead, Pakistan 25% ahead, UAE 22% ahead, Italy 20% ahead, France 14% ahead and the UK 1% ahead.”

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(Source: ForwardKeys)