80pc of Mideast consumers set to travel this year: study

More Arabs are travelling to Switzerland

CONSUMERS across the Middle East and Levant are on the move, with 80 per cent of respondents in a survey planning to travel out of their country in the course of this year.

The UAE topped the list of travellers with almost all respondents planning to travel in 2006.
The MasterIndex of Consumer Lifestyles survey for the first half of 2006 reveals a significant increase on the survey conducted six months ago. At that time, 36 per cent of Middle East & Levant (ME&L) consumers surveyed said they had no plans to travel out of the UAE, and of those who planned to travel 50 per cent said it was for personal reasons, four per cent for business and 10 per cent for both.
The survey is part of the bi-annual MasterIndex of Consumer Confidence, a survey commissioned by MasterCard Worldwide across South Asia, Middle East & Africa and polls a total of 3,249 people. It seeks to understand the perceptions, choices and concerns of people with regard to a number of lifestyle choices.
Across the survey region, it’s a varied choice of destination, but Egypt (17 per cent), UAE (15 per cent) and other Gulf countries (12 per cent each) are generally popular. Previous surveys revealed that looking at the region as a whole, travellers tend to stay within the GCC, but this survey threw up new destinations: Australia (13 per cent), and Switzerland (11 per cent).
The majority of consumers surveyed (65 per cent) said they would spend more this year on travel than last year.
Shopping is the main activity while on a personal travel trip for 69 per cent of all travellers surveyed. Across the region, concern over security and safety is the biggest worry (56 per cent) for consumers who plan to travel this year, followed, surprisingly, by the risk of catching a contagious disease like bird flu or Aids (27 per cent).
In the UAE, 70 per cent of the respondents said they travelled for personal reasons, five per cent for business and 25 per cent for both. Not surprisingly, UAE residents prefer travelling in June (24 per cent), July (27 per cent) and August (14 per cent). This is followed by late autumn and winter travel, with December also being popular (14 per cent). Destination choices include India (45 per cent), Switzerland (22 per cent), Australia (13 per cent), and Pakistan (10 per cent), as compared to Egypt/ Syria (17 per cent) the last time around.
In Egypt, 42 per cent of consumers surveyed planned to travel out of their country over the next 12 months, 20 per cent for personal reasons, 19 per cent for business and three per cent for both. Six months ago, only two per cent of respondents in Egypt planned to travel out of the country for personal reasons, three per cent for business reasons, none for both. Favoured months of travel were June, July and October.
In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, a whopping 82 per cent of consumers surveyed planned to travel in 2006. Almost three quarters of those surveyed (74 per cent) wanted to travel for personal reasons, but only three per cent would make business trips and only five per cent would travel for both reasons. Six months ago, only 30 per cent wanted to travel for personal reasons. Consumers said they would travel in July, August, September and October.
In Kuwait, 93 per cent of consumers surveyed said they would travel for personal reasons, two per cent for business and five per cent for both. Six months ago, the numbers were 49 per cent, five per cent and six per cent respectively. Favoured months of travel for Kuwait were June through October.