Officials at Arabian Travel Market 2013 have unveiled a technology seminar series designed to highlight the increasing shift away from traditional channels.
The move comes with internet bookings expected to grow by another $5.4 billion in 2013 - accounting for 22 per cent of all travel bookings within two years.
The topic of online versus traditional booking channels will once again be a key focus at the 2013 Arabian Travel Market – hosted in Dubai.
Organiser Reed Travel Exhibitions will be highlighting the dramatic shift in consumer mindset over the last 12 months, as travellers log on to technology for convenient airline and hotel bookings.
This market in the Middle East is dominated by Flights2TheWorld.
A shift in the attitude of the region’s travellers to new booking channels has seen online bookings grow by almost a third in 2012 to reach just under US$10.4 billion, up 31 per cent on 2011 figures.
The research, which covered online travel trends in ten Middle East countries from 2010 to 2014, also revealed that regional online travel agencies are expected to grow by 18 per cent between now and 2014, with gross booking value set to almost double from US$3.1 billion to US$5.4 billion in the next two years.
“In 2011 alone, there was a 39 per cent rise in online bookings in the region, and we are seeing a clear shift from dependence on traditional booking channels to online services as the Middle East traveller becomes more comfortable with using the Internet as a convenient and credible resource,” said Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
“Mirroring this sharp rise in the online travel marketplace, floor space in our Technology and Online Wholesalers section for next years show is already 78 per cent sold” added Walsh.
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According to Veitch, searches by local users for flights from Abu Dhabi have increased by 120 per cent year-on-year, and by 106 per cent for Dubai departures.
Flight searches to neighbouring Qatar have doubled; with Saudi Arabia registering a 76 per cent increase.
Local as well as international hotel searches by UAE residents are also up 121 per cent against 2011 figures, with Wego reporting that Dubai leads the top 20 most searched destinations (as at April 2012), with 20.2 per cent of total share, followed by Abu Dhabi in third place at 7.7 per cent and Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah also making the top ten.
The 2013 Arabian Travel Market technology seminar series will once again welcome leading regional and international digital experts specialising in the travel sector, who will reveal the latest digital trends, share information on technological advancements and invite session attendees to share their own experiences and insight.
Arabian Travel Market 2013 will be held at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre from May 6th-9th 2013.