Gen X driving force for tourism growth

DUBAI, 7 February 2024: The GCC outbound market is forecast to grow exponentially over the next five years, driven by Gen X travellers, according to recent research, says Arabian Travel Market (ATM). The ATM trade show will run from 6 to 9 May at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

According to findings by New York-based Research Nester, generation X comprises people born between 1965 and 1980, leading to significant growth in outbound travel from the GCC countries. 

The report highlights numerous reasons why this generation has a dominant share of the GCC’s outbound market, particularly in the UAE and Saudi Arabian markets.

Regarding the report, Arabian Travel Market exhibition director Danielle Curtis said: “Within an age range of approximately 43 years to 58 years, many Gen Xers hold senior positions within companies and, as such, tend to travel overseas regularly on business trips. 

“Also, with responsibility comes reward; many have high earning potential and disposable income. Many successful entrepreneurs at this stage in their careers also have built significant wealth and can afford to travel frequently.  

“Many industry commentators are focused on Millennial and Gen Z travellers, but, logically, Gen X would dominate the GCC outbound market value given the region’s demographics, particularly expatriate senior management.”   

Members of Gen X are also changing their lifestyles, with considerable numbers now looking for a more sustainable work-life balance. This often means spending more leisure time with their families, including holidays and combining business with leisure, significantly growing travel’s bleisure segment. 

To illustrate these points, Gen X will be responsible for USD11.1 billion, 41% of Saudi Arabia’s total outbound market value of USD27 billion by 2028, according to the report. It is similar to the picture in the UAE. Gen X will spend USD18.2 billion, 60% of the total market value of USD30.5 billion by 2028. 

“It is also worth considering that as this generation begins to age and subsequently retire, naturally, it will be Millennials who will begin to dominate outbound market share in the decade ahead,” added Curtis.

Overall, Saudi tourists favour Europe as a destination, accounting for USD13.2 billion in market value by 2028, compared with just USD7.4 billion in 2019. Other top destinations for GCC travellers include the UK, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the US, India, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa. The trend of increasing outbound GCC business has certainly not gone unnoticed by many international destinations. 

“In 2023, we welcomed 76 national pavilions covering approximately 55% of the total show floor space, with 1,350 participating companies. This year, with the return of national pavilions from Spain and China and several African destinations, we have allocated additional floor space to accommodate this growth,” added Curtis.

To support the outbound sector further, ATM is also organising a market insights summit, covering India, China and Latin America and the latest generational travel trends. 

In line with its theme, ‘Empowering Innovation: Transforming Travel Through Entrepreneurship’, the 31st edition of ATM will once again host policymakers, industry leaders and travel professionals from across the Middle East and beyond, encouraging them to forge new relationships, exchange knowledge and identify innovations that can reshape the future of global travel and tourism. 

More than 40,000 travel trade professionals, including 30,000 visitors, attended the 30th edition of ATM in May 2023, setting a new show record. The exhibition attracted more than 2,100 exhibitors and representatives from over 155 countries, providing a global platform for unveiling ATM’s net-zero pledge.

(Source: ATM)


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