Qataris ‘top spenders on holidays in GCC’

Thursday, 10 May 2012 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Qataris spend the most on travel among GCC nationalities with an average expenditure of $4,100 per day, followed by travellers from Saudi Arabia at $3,360 and the UAE at $ 3,280, said a report.

The breakdown of spend across all GCC nationalities includes 54 per cent allocated to airfares (across all classes of travel), 18 per cent on accommodation, nine per cent on dining and five per cent on car rental, according to the study The Outbound GCC Travel Market – Unique Trends and Characteristics of GCC Nationals, released at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.

The study interviewed 2,500 GCC nationals about their travel habits over a 12-month period from January to December 2011.

Sunil Malhotra, senior lecturer at the Emirates Aviation College and author of the study, surveyed a broad demographic of GCC nationals from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

He focused on 20 criteria from travel spend and favoured class of travel to destination-specific preferences and decision-maker identification, to present a detailed picture of GCC residents’ habits.

“The results of the survey are an invaluable tool for destinations and exhibitors looking to capture increased market share from this affluent and well-travelled market segment,” said Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organiser of Arabian Travel Market.

Compared to the rest of the world, GCC nationals spend 260 per cent more on airfares and 430 per cent on accommodation, but 13 per cent less on car rental.

“The class of travel is also important, with 40 per cent of Qataris interviewed opting for first class, and between 40 and 60 per cent of all GCC nationals booking business class,” said Malhotra.

The study findings touched on the recurring theme of extended vacations as a major differentiator between this region and the rest of the world, led by Qatari and Saudi Arabian travellers, with stays ranging from 14 up to 56 days.

Decision makers also differ across the region and the six Gulf countries are split into two clear camps, with the wife usually choosing the destination in Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE, while the male head of household has the final say in Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

According to the report summary, 53 per cent of survey respondents will travel to between two and five countries for leisure or pleasure within the next 12 months, with Saudi nationals the most frequent travelers, followed by the UAE.

“Cultural experiences and family-focus are the two most important factors when planning travel, with 40 per cent of survey respondents looking at taking an extended three to four-week trip in the next 12 months,” said Malhotra.