• Interest levels to explore the Kingdom domestically remain high despite borders reopening announcement 
  • 69% of Saudi respondents are planning to travel both domestically and internationally in 2021
  • Precautionary measures and travel advisory are most important influencers in travel decision making

Almosafer, the Kingdom’s leading omni-channel travel brand, has revealed the findings of its second extensive travel sentiment survey which examined Saudi nationals’ travel behavior one year into the pandemic. The study shows that 65% of Saudi respondents have travelled domestically over the past year and 80% are planning to do so in 2021, 11% of which will do so exclusively, an insight that further solidifies Almosafer’s ongoing efforts to grow and diversify its domestic product offering in line with the Kingdoms’ wider agenda to enhance the tourism sector’s contribution to the national economy.

Domestic tourism in KSA has shown remarkable growth during 2020, and Almosafer, as a continuous contributor to the tourism economy, has invested into the development of a diverse range of local destinations that Saudis can discover in their home country, with a focus on cultural and adventure experiences. The growing appeal of the country to its residents is evident as the survey shows that respondents are planning to further travel for leisure within their home country this year, even when borders reopen. Respondents’ most popular domestic destinations were Jeddah and Riyadh, followed by Makkah, Al Khobar and Taif.

Fahad Alobailan, VP of Retail at Almosafer, said: "This survey provides exciting insights into Saudi travellers’ needs and considerations and will shape our efforts, this year as every year, to support the development of domestic tourism. Last year we announced dedicated packages and a 360-degree promotional campaign to boost domestic bookings and encourage our Saudi customers to explore the Kingdom’s hidden gems, from the Farasan Islands off the coast of Jizan to the Deesa Great Valley in Tabuk. We also launched a variety of bookable tours and attractions from across the Kingdom, carefully selected and curated by Almosafer’s expert travel advisors for a customised and unique experience."

On the International travel front, the survey uncovered that Saudi travellers are keen on venturing out for an extended holiday with over 80% of Saudi respondents planning to travel internationally within the first six months of borders opening. Destinations of interest are predominantly within the MENA region, as also seen through Almosafer’s initial advance searches on app & web, with Dubai and Cairo topping the list. Qatar is receiving initial interest, especially in light of the recent restoration of diplomatic ties between KSA and its neighboring GCC county. A few trending destinations which made the top 10 list were the Maldives, a solid favorite amongst couples and families (top 3 spot for both), as well as Sarajevo, the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Leisure travel dominated the purpose of travel amongst domestic and international travellers and over 57% of Saudis will be opting for an extended vacation abroad (more than 7 days) when borders reopen. As far as travel companions go, the majority of respondents will be travelling internationally with smaller groups of friends (32%), whilst 22% will be exploring the world solo, and 26% will opt for family vacations with young or teenage children.

Muzzammil Ahussain, Executive Vice President at Almosafer, said: "During the past year we witnessed a prominent increase in demand for domestic travel through Almosafer’s searches and bookings, and the results of our survey solidify our strategy of continuous investment into domestic tourism development. Even with the borders reopening, growing and developing our domestic offering will remain a key focus for us in 2021, especially on our domestic activities marketplace which features a variety of bookable tours and attractions from across the Kingdom, carefully selected and curated by Almosafer’s expert travel advisors."

"From an international travel point of view, being informed about the latest precautionary measures and receiving expert recommendations will be essential when making travel plans, this was evident in our findings as over 20% of Saudi respondents confirmed they would prefer making travel arrangements with the help of a travel advisor. Almost 10% of respondents specified WhatsApp as their preferred booking channel, proving that it is one of the top emerging core communication channels amongst Saudis and a key channel for Almosafer" he added.

Almosafer’s dedicated team of experienced travel advisors provide a holistic customer support system offering 24/7 assistance, valuable insights, safety consultation, guidance and reassurance throughout the omnichannel booking experience. This includes travel recommendations regarding travel requirements, destinations safety, airline operations and precautionary measures to take into consideration when travelling internationally.

The survey was conducted online in Saudi Arabia between January and February 2021 with over 3,000 respondents (72% of which were Saudi nationals).
To access the full consumer survey analysis please click here

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