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Demand in travel: Where is the GCC’s first, ideal destination?

September 27, 2020

The travel industry is by far one of the most affected industries by the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, there is a projected loss of over $2.1 trillion. While travel industries patiently await a return to business, GCC travellers join-in playing the waiting game. However, the biggest question remains, where exactly does this audience want to travel to?

Demand in Travel

Back in June, we analysed some of our travel data, looked at demand in travel and discussed the different interests in destinations by age. We found interest in travelling to Turkey and the U.S.A amongst baby boomers and Gen X. Meanwhile, Millennials picked France, Turkey, and the U.S.A as their ideal destinations.

This has changed. Big time!

Looking at those huge spikes, 28th March was when KSA announced the closing down of airports and suspension of all international flights from the following day. Meanwhile another highlight is on the 7th of July when Dubai announced that it was open for tourism once again. Ever since the beginning of July, the travel conversation has started to increase again after a very quiet couple of months.

Travel conversation in the GCC for 2020

With the opening of Dubai’s borders, the GCC audience is hopeful again and returns to halcyon days when traveling was possible.

The Results

When comparing the most mentioned countries, it might seem as a surprise to see 3 GCC countries on top of the list; however, this proves that users do not intend on taking long flights just yet.

This and as predicted on our previous article, the ability to travel domestically. Saudi Arabia makes the majority of the GCC’s population, while Kuwait boasts a huge audience too. With this in mind, travelers find domestic their best solution for the time being while they wait for international flights to fully come back to life.

Chart showing the first destinations in the GCC for travellers

Top Countries

Kuwait (tweets could refer to Kuwait city, too) comes first, while KSA and the UAE follow in second and third places, respectively. This is likely to be due to family travel or otherwise seeing friends or study. Abroad, the USA is the top non-GCC country mentioned while Turkey tops Asian non-Arab countries. France is the most popular European destination while China and Thailand are within the top 10 destinations.

  1.  Kuwait
  2.  KSA
  3. UAE
  4. USA
  5. Turkey
  6. France
  7. UK
  8. China
  9. Oman
  10. Thailand

Top Cities

Furthermore, we went on to analyse the most mentioned cities. The results do look surprising to a point, yet very expected.

Dubai is the most popular destination, although the UAE ranked third within the top 10 countries. Abu Dhabi; however, was nowhere to be seen within the top 10 destinations, understandable with the strict border regulations. This comes as no surprise with Dubai’s outstanding marketing for tourism as of late.

Top GCC cities for travellers

KSA’s Riyadh and Jeddah come in second and third respectively, which proves the huge intention to travel domestically within Saudi residents. London ranks fourth in the overall ranking and the top non-GCC city, while Nice (the international hub into the South of France) and Rome follow.

  1. Dubai
  2. Riyadh
  3. Jeddah 
  4. London 
  5. Nice 
  6. Rome 
  7. Doha 
  8. Muscat 
  9. Madrid 
  10. Barcelona 


Given current restrictions, domestic travel reigns supreme. That said, the audience is dreaming of the not so distant future when they are free to voyage further afield. Influencers are still intergral when forming purchasing behaviour in the mid-to-long-term.

About the Data

DA has built a custom data warehouse service called Sila, powered by data science we turn that raw social data into actionable insights.

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