The Meetings, incentives, conferences, and events (MICE) market has grown rapidly in the GCC and particularly in Dubai, which in 2015 held nearly 27% market share of the USD 1.3 billion MICE GCC market.
According to a study conducted by Strategy & in 2015, business tourists in the GCC comprise of one in three of all tourists in the region. This is a high number when compared with the worrying statistic that suggests only 2% of global exhibitions take place in the Middle East, according to the same study.
Outbound travel from the Middle East, according to United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)’s 2015 Tourism Highlights, numbered approximately 37 million people for 2014 and accounted for 3.3% of the global outbound market. A study conducted by Frost & Sullivan and Insights Middle East for Amadeus in 2014, estimated the total value of outbound travellers from the GCC at USD 64 billion. The same study estimated the average spend in GCC countries for inter-regional travel at USD 4,980 and for international business travel at USD 9,920. These statistics clearly reflect the immense potential for business and MICE travel from the region.
Speaking of luxury travel, according to a study by 2014 online survey conducted by YouGov, the average spend by luxury travellers from the MENA region is USD 8,310 while the average length of the trip is 5.1 nights. However, for sustained growth in the coming years, challenges that both the MICE and luxury travel sectors for both inbound and outbound travellers need to be addressed.
When it comes to luxury travel, the challenges are more intense. Keeping in line with global changing tastes and attitudes, luxury travellers too are looking for more value for their money. While this does not necessarily mean cheaper, it does mean more benefits such as personalization, simplification, and seamless services. Another challenge in luxury travel is the changing nature of group travel, where multi-generational travel is now becoming the norm.