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GCC Travel Trends: No destination needed, just a flight out.

February 25, 2021

No two days on a holiday are the same, but over the past year, travel has been difficult or for most cases, non-existent. A harsh reality that we have had to learn to deal with and for the travel industry, a nightmare that they cannot wait to wake up from. COVID-19 hit the world by storm and the airline industry has been the most impacted by its implications. We predicted a fresh start in January, but a second variant came out of nowhere spreading short-lived skepticism across eager people waiting for it all to end. So, where would the next destination be? Anywhere at this point. 

Travel & Vaccines.

Who would have thought it would last this long? A question that has become a part of every catch-up discussion and a dreamy holiday keeping us all optimistic. Lockdowns are still in effect in big parts of the world; but with the vaccine, henceforth, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

We previously identified the travel topic as the most mentioned when related to the vaccines. All three of the KSA, UAE and Kuwait public agree.

Mentions of the vaccine by industry
Mentions of the vaccine by industry

It could only be good news from here on. Specially now, with the positivity spread by the wide availability of the vaccines across the three countries. 

Where to?

Simply put, anywhere.

Upon identifying the clear increase in interest towards travel, specially since the beginning of 2021. We thought it would be interesting to look into this conversation. So, we hopped back on Sila, our data warehouse, and took a closer look.

The analysis looked at 55k tweets across the GCC, those were created by 30k different users and were posted since the beginning of the year with mentions of travel in both Arabic and English.

Sentiment analysis towards travel in the GCC
Sentiment analysis towards travel in the GCC

Its all positive. Our sentiment analysis brought back promising results and identified almost 79% of the 55k tweets as positive. Next, we looked at destinations and here is where it gets really interesting.

Percentage of travel destination mentions across the GCC
Percentage of travel destination mentions across the GCC

84% of our sample mentioned travel without identifying any destination. The difference is quite huge, to say the least.

This implies that the GCC population may just be craving a holiday at this rate. Yes, most cities are out of lockdown, roaming locally could be easy, but it is definitely not the same as international travel. After a year of staying in town, most of our sample want to travel and at this point, probably anywhere.

Implications to the travel industry.

This is quite good news to the travel industry. Vaccines have become available in the GCC, and in many countries outside the region. While the travel and airlines industry had been hit heavily by COVID-19, the aftermath sounds promising.

It is just a matter of time before the industry starts booming again. Yes, it might take a little bit of time to fully steady the ship, but it is time to start steering.

With a majority of our population without a specific destination in mind, this is the best opportunity for marketeers to give them one.

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