In the first dedicated survey around post COVID-19 travel for Saudi Arabia, Almosafer, the Kingdom’s leading omni-channel travel brand, found Saudi national’s appetite for travel has remained resilient with 73% confident to go with restrictions partially lifted.
In a boost to the domestic leisure travel market, 35% of Saudi’s are keen on discovering the growing cultural, adventure and entertainment offering in their home country, as they chose a staycation in the Kingdom as a preferred travel option post COVID-19. Makkah and Jeddah were identified as the top destinations for domestic travel, with other metropolitan cities amongst the top choices (Riyadh, Dammam) and more experiential destinations such as AlUla, Taif and Abha of rising interest. The results in terms of domestic travel are consistent with searches across Almosafer app and web channels, as compared to the previous month, a 83% increase in domestic searches was recorded from 1st May till date.
Domestic travel was only topped slightly by the wider GCC, with 38% of Saudis indicating their first venture out of KSA will be to its neighboring countries. As for destinations further afield, 38% also chose Asia for a potential first trip post pandemic. Travelling with family was preferred by 50% of Saudi nationals, followed by 29% who said they would go in smaller groups of friends in keeping with the social distancing mindset.
In terms of mode of transport, Saudis preference was journeys by car (48%) or short haul flights (40%), with religious tourism of the highest priority in terms of travel purpose (42%). Given the closure of Makkah during Ramadan, once the city opens, bookings are expected to rise quickly amongst the domestic market.
58% of Saudi travellers would opt for trips shorter than 7 days. But overall, there is also a large appetite for trips that exceed the duration of a weekend getaway with 42% planning to go for longer than a week.
The majority of Saudi travellers questioned mentioned social distancing and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) rules applicable in-destination would be crucial information necessary before making a travel decision (60%).
Clarity on safety measures taken by airlines & hotels is also considered critical for 55% of travellers to help build confidence.
Travel advice through online and offline channels will furthermore play a significant role in the new normal, as Saudis seek reassurance on their choices (36%), to help fully restore travel confidence.
Muzzammil Ahussain, Executive Vice President at Almosafer said: “In the first dedicated study of Saudi sentiment in relation to post pandemic travel it is encouraging to see the passion for travel in the Kingdom remains resilient. The interest in domestic leisure travel also provides a real opportunity to accelerate the development of tourism in the Kingdom and focus on the growing cultural, adventure and entertainment offerings waiting to be explored.
We have already taken the initiative to invest into the creation of a holistic domestic offering for our flagship consumer brand Almosafer. This will include packages and travel options for all major destinations within the Kingdom, as well as those that are lesser known but full of exciting things to explore. We look forward to enabling Saudis to fully discover their own country and its vast touristic opportunities.”
Fahad Alobailan, VP of Retail at Almosafer added: “We have an important role to play to help restore confidence and address industry challenges. As an omni-channel brand our focus is on providing Saudi travellers with the personalized advice and support they need at every touchpoint, to help them make informed travel decisions and feel confident wherever they are in the world.
Travel advisory for us means keeping up to date with information and curating qualitative and quantitative content that will help our customers not only choose the destination for their next trip, but also give them an idea of what exactly to expect before they travel. Our customer support system offers valuable, in-depth information and guidance on safety regulations and restrictions in place from travel providers as well as in-destination insights. Information will be made available online and via our travel advisors who are being trained to become experts on post-pandemic recommendations.”
The survey amongst Saudi nationals was conducted online from May 14 - May 20, 2020, with respondents from all across the country.