- Özgür Töre
According to a new survey in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), more than half of the survey respondents (51 percent), which included UAE Nationals, said they are planning three or more holidays next year.
With COVID-19 making international trips more challenging, more than three quarters (80 percent) of residents said the chance to create new memories was the aspect of travel they yearned for the most, and that some of their best memories were made from going away on holiday (81 percent).
The sweeping impact of COVID-19 on leisure travel was clearly reflected in the survey. Almost all respondents (91 percent) said they had at least one overseas holiday cancelled this year, with close to half cancelling a holiday within the Middle East and North Africa region.
In a clear sign that jet-setting UAE residents still relish the vacationing experience, 84 percent said they miss the chance to create new memories on holiday. The results also highlighted the importance of the hospitality industry to people’s overall holiday experience and, more specifically, the travel priorities of UAE Nationals.
Almost all (99 percent) of Emirati respondents felt strongly about missing out on making memories with their families when staying at hotels. This was a shared consensus, where close to 80 percent of all surveyed respondents said their hotel stay is an essential part of the vacationing experience and creating wonderful memories with loved ones.
Conducted by Hilton and the market research company YouGov, the survey of 1,000 people of various nationalities across the UAE.
Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, President, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, Hilton, said: “Our survey shows that the UAE’s passionate travellers are longing to discover places they have had on their bucket list or revisit the destinations they have already fallen in love with to create memorable moments together again. It also demonstrates the hospitality industry’s crucial role in shaping people’s travel experiences. 2020 has reminded us just how important these moments are and how they become the stories we tell, the laughs we share and the experiences we never forget. Hilton Team Members all over the world are ready to welcome guests with all the reassurance they need to create their new memories whenever they are ready.”
Since the pandemic, Hilton has introduced CleanStay, an industry-defining standard of cleanliness and disinfection, extended its re-booking and cancellation policy, allowing guests greater travel flexibility, and introduced new discounted Dream Away* rates.
In terms of the top holiday destinations, just over a third of all respondents (34 percent) said they will travel to their home country, followed by more than a quarter (26 percent) of respondents favouring mainland Europe. Among UAE Nationals, mainland Europe was also the leading destination preference (44 percent), followed by the Far East (33 percent).
Holidaying priorities moving forward
The survey also shed light on how future holidaying priorities have been affected by the pandemic, particularly when it comes to the type of holiday people are seeking.
Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents said the pandemic has changed their priorities for leisure travel, with more than a third (34 percent) now looking for experiences that focus on wellness. Next came in holidays that provide opportunities for nature exploration and adventure (16 percent), followed by resort-type experiences (15 percent).
Living in the moment
Another interesting trend reflected through the results was that nearly all Emirati respondents (90 percent) said they posted less on social media whilst travelling this summer. In fact, nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) of all survey takers agreed, the main reason being that they wanted to spend more time making travel memories with family and friends instead of spending time on social platforms.
Nevertheless, social media continued to be a popular way to reminisce the good times, with exactly half of respondents saying they posted ‘throwback’ holiday pictures to cheer themselves up when they were not able to venture abroad.
Although international travel has slowed down, staycations across the Emirates have become increasingly popular. The sought-after staycation was the most common type of holiday in 2020, with close to half (43 percent) of respondents taking an extended trip or weekend away in the UAE. Moving forward, more than half (53 percent) of respondents say they will book more staycations even as global travel restrictions ease, either every month or every quarter.