The findings of a recent study on the outbound travel habits of GCC nationals were revealed during a session held as part of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2012 seminar series.

The study entitled “The Outbound GCC Travel Market – Unique Trends and Characteristics of GCC Nationals” said Qataris spend the most on travel with an average expenditure of $4,100 per day, followed by travelers from Saudi Arabia at $3,360 and the UAE at $3,280.
The breakdown of spending across all GCC nationalities includes 54 percent allocated to airfares (across all classes of travel), 18 percent on accommodation, 9 percent on dining and 5 percent on car rental.

Compared to the rest of the world, GCC nationals spend 260 percent more on airfares and 430 percent on accommodation, but 13 percent less on car rental.

“The class of travel is also important, with 40 percent of Qataris interviewed opting for first class, and between 40 and 60 percent of all GCC nationals booking business class,” author of the study Sunil Malhotra, senior lecturer at the Emirates Aviation College, said.

The study findings touched on the recurring theme of extended vacations as a major differentiator between this region and the rest of the world, led by Qatari and Saudi Arabian travelers, with stays ranging from 14 up to 56 days.

According to the report summary, 53 percent of survey respondents will travel to between two and five countries for leisure or pleasure within the next 12 months, with Saudi nationals the most frequent travelers, followed by the UAE.

“Cultural experiences and family-focus are the two most important factors when planning travel, with 40 percent of survey respondents looking at taking an extended three to four-week trip in the next 12 months,” said Malhotra.

The study interviewed 2,500 GCC nationals about their travel habits over a 12-month period from January to December 2011.