September 23, 2020


Middle East Tourism Market is a game changer but It is also one of the most challenging markets to get Business from if you don’t have the right partner.

Middle East Tourism - An Overview

Middle East Tourism continues to grow at a Rapid pace and The Middle East tourists remain one of the highest spending travelers in the world – spending as much as as US$500 more than the average European travelers.

This has made the Middle East countries one of the most lucrative outbound tourist markets in today’s fast growing international tourism industry. According to recent research, Middle East, travel and tourism activity is growing by 4.4% per annum, which means that there is continuous growth for anyone wanting to invest in this Market.

Reference Guide

Middle East Tourism - The Why

The changing trends clearly show that the Middle East in general and GCC region, in particular, would be the driving force for Tourism growth in many regions around the world. A region which has 20% local and 80% expat population, both love to travel and both willing to explore.
The Middle East Tourism market is growing into a lucrative niche business as well-off travelers venture more beyond their home region and spend heavily on up-market accommodation, shopping and entertainment.
The Middle East Tourism market was actually the world’s fastest-growing market in 2017 with a 9 percent increase in outbound trips over the first eight months of the year, according to preliminary World Travel Monitor® results from IPK International.
Besides Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the most attractive outbound market for the Middle East Tourism Market in the region and both are characterized by high spending and long trips.
There is a very high proportion of high-earners going on international trips and a high (about 50 percent) share of younger international travelers under the age of 34, according to World Travel Monitor® figures.
Health-related travel is also a notable trend with well-off Arabs often going on long trips for medical purposes, accompanied by a large number of family members. In addition, Arabian tourists often book serviced apartments, for example, where a maid does the cooking and cleaning.
“There is also an interesting trend for people to visit long-haul destinations offering Islamic hospitality, such as Malaysia and Indonesia,” Ramzi Maaytah, Partner of IPK International Middle East.
Since this is a region where expat population usually looks for deals and the local population for long stays in places which are Halal friendly, it can be at times overwhelming to make inroads in this region, especially if you are not familiar with the workings of Middle East.

The What you should know about Middle East Tourism before you enter

  • Have a deep Understanding of the Different regions in the Middle East Market.
  • Halal food plays an important role.
  • Service is very Important. The Middle East has top of the line service and the same is expected when they Travel.
  • Family Travel is important. A Family can also be a small group.
  • Middle East has over 200 Nationalities and each Nationality is different. Your Packages need to account for this. 
  • Eating & Shopping take priority over History..
  • The whole region Love’s Deals / Bargaining . Whether Buying Packages or Souvenirs
  • Online  trumps Offline for B2C and reverse applies for B2B.
  • Excellent Flight Connectivity. (Direct Flights are preferred. Low Cost Airline destinations get a faster Traction.)
  • In General Middle Eastern Local Travelers want a lot of free time.
  • Speedy Response time. A lot of conversation (incl Quotations) happens on Whatsapp.
  • Conversion rates are low as everything gets compared with
  • Price trumps Loyalty. Loyalty is not the Biggest Strength for major part of the Markets.
Middle East Tourism
Local Bazaars and Designer Shops are both Important for the Middle East Travelers.

The How to sell to the Middle East Tourism Market.

  • Think long term. You need to win the trust of the Agents. We can transfer our relationships but you need to walk the Talk.(If you are not able to see 2 years down the line, don’t enter this market)
  • Have Patience. You may have to quote 5-6 Times before you get the first booking.
  • Have products which cater to multiple nationalities. Remember 200+ nationalities call Middle east their home.
  • Create Recall with Agents. via Email & Whatsapp (Middle East has over 75K+ Agents) If you can’t work on Whatsapp, don’t expect to get Business.
  • Forget Monthly Reports. Work on Real time reports. (if your current partner doesn’t offer this then you are missing on Business)
  • Participate in ATM Trade Show. Show of face is very important
  • Travel to all the Key cities in the Middle East, atleast once every 3 months. Out of sight is out of mind.
  • Be ready to Learn. (Middle East Tourism Market is not easy to crack.)

The Budgets you should consider

  • Think the Middle East Tourism Spending Potential First. This means you need to be clear whom you are targeting. Mass Market would have different budgets v/s Up-market.
  • Remember that Middle East Tourists have one of the highest Tourism Spend.
  • Have very generous Entertainment Budgets.
  • Align your Budgets with the Stats above.
  • Be ready to have good amount allocated for Sales Trips. Middle East is expensive and you need to be here regularly if you wish to succeed.
  • Have Budgets for Arabian Travel Mart Trade Show.

Final Parting Thoughts on our Research

  • If you really want to succeed with the Middle East Tourism market and get your share of Travelers then it is advisable to have someone to handhold you.
  • A Rep / Sales & Marketing Company would be the best way forward but Choose carefully.
  • Think in terms of Long term growth.
  • Pedigree of the Person leading Sales should trump Retainer cost.
  • Be ready for Disappointments. No matter how good you are you need to win over the Trust of agents in the Middle East Markets.
  • Have your toughest Reservation People who can deal with low conversion rates  handle the Middle East Tourism Market.
  • Be Ready to fight a Price war every single time. (Even for Luxury)
  • Luxury may fight a price war in the begining but may buy an upsell for thousands of dollars without batting an eyelid. 

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