The online travel industry in the Middle East is flourishing at an unprecedented rate with online bookings growing by nearly a third this year, according to a new Travelport co-sponsored research.
According to the study – carried out by global travel market research company PhoCusWright – online travel sales in the Middle East will grow 31% from 2011 to almost $10.4B this year and are set to reach $15.8B by 2014.
This means that in 2014, online bookings will make up nearly a quarter (22%) of all travel bookings made in the region. The research also shows the rapid development of regional Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), which are growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 18% between 2010 and 2014.
In 2011, 39% of all online bookings in the Middle East were made via OTAs and the gross booking value via OTAs is set to nearly double from $3.1B to $6B by 2014. “The online travel industry in the Middle East is growing at an unprecedented rate”, said Rabih Saab, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Travelport. “The Middle East is one of the world’s fastest growing tourism destinations and source markets, and the online potential is immense.
“To remain competitive in the online world, travel agents have to offer travellers more choice, a comprehensive range of content and a better shopping experience. At Travelport we work closely with travel agents to help them meet these demands by offering broader content through faster distribution and sharing our expertise so they can firmly establish themselves in this rapidly evolving industry.”
Air remains the strongest category online, accounting for 67% of all online travel bookings in 2011. Online hotel sales in the Middle East accounted for 32% in 2011 and car rentals made up the remaining 1%. Notably, 59% of all online hotel bookings were made through Online Travel Agencies as opposed to direct bookings via hotel websites.