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Online travel to experience solid growth in the Middle East

Online travel to experience solid growth in the Middle East ( The online travel and tourism industry is poised to “experience solid growth” over the next five years – with the Middle East and Africa leading the way in percentage terms, revealed research from Euromonitor International released at the World Travel Market (WTM) Vision Conference–Dubai yesterday.

Air remains the strongest online category, accounting for more than 50% of sales by value in North America and Australasia in 2010. For the Middle East and Africa, air represented around 10% of value sales in 2010. However, between 2010 and 2015 air will experience a 13% compound annual growth rate in the region, alongside Eastern Europe, the strongest online growth figures in the travel and tourism global overview report.

Online hotel sales in Middle East and Africa over the period will grow by more than 12%, sharing the top slot with Latin America, which sees the same growth rates for accommodation.

The growth figures for North America are in single digits for air and hotels at 6% and 4%, respectively.

Speaking at the WTM Vision Conference – Dubai yesterday, Euromonitor International Travel and Tourism Industry Analyst Nadejda Popova said: “The Middle East is one of the world’s growing tourism destinations and source markets.

“This growth is replicated online over the next 5 years with web sales across both air travel and accommodation increasing dramatically.”

She added that in the mature online market of Western Europe, hotel sales still represented a worthwhile opportunity. Social media is another opening, particularly as airlines such as Delta and easyJet now have transactional Facebook pages.

However, the study also identified potential negative factors. Popova warned the trend for suppliers to focus on direct sales could “increase conflict” between distribution channels. The report also outlined that high profile bankruptcies and subsequent consumer protection issues could impact consumer sentiment for dynamic packaging operators.

Furthermore, online travel agents’ inability to offer “the personal touch” during the holiday sales process, and ongoing technical difficulties in arranging complex itineraries, are seen as other headwinds.

World Travel Market Exhibition Director Simon Press said: “The Middle East’s importance in the global travel and tourism industry is growing every year. Online travel sales are mature in western markets such as the UK and America, and the Middle East is catching up over the next five years.”

The report – worth £1,000 - was given FREE to all delegates at the WTM Vision Conference–Dubai.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Collett, Press and PR Executive
World Travel Market, Tel: +44 (0) 20 8910 7836, Fax: +44 (0) 20 8334 0624, Web:

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