Survey: UAE consumers will travel more

Results of the MasterIndex of Consumer Lifestyles survey for the first half of 2006 have revealed that all consumers surveyed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) planned to travel in 2006, 70% for personal reasons, 5% for business and 25% for both.
This is a significant increase on the previous MasterIndex survey conducted six months previously.

At that time, 36% of Middle East & Levant (ME&L) consumers surveyed said they had no plans to travel out of the UAE, and of those who planned to travel 50% said it was for personal reasons, 4% for business travel and 10% for both.

In fact, consumers across the Middle East and Levant are on the move, with 80% of consumers surveyed planning to travel out of their country in the course of this year.

The MasterIndex of Consumer Lifestyles survey is part of the bi-annual MasterIndex of Consumer Confidence, a survey commissioned by MasterCard Worldwide across South Asia, Middle East & Africa. The Consumer Lifestyles survey seeks to understand perceptions, choices and concerns that people have with regard to a number of lifestyle choices.

Not surprisingly, United Arab Emirates residents prefer traveling in June (24%), July (27%) and August (14%). This is followed by late Autumn and Winter travel, with December also being popular (14%).

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The latest survey shows UAE consumers favour India (45%), Switzerland (22%), Australia (13%), and Pakistan (10%) as travel destinations. In the previous survey Egypt/Syria was a popular destination (17%). Across ME&L, the choice of destination varies but Egypt (17%), UAE (15%) and other Gulf countries (12% each) are generally popular. Previous surveys have revealed that when looking at the ME&L region as a whole, travelers tend to stay within the GCC, but this survey saw Australia as a favored destination (13%), followed by another new entry, Switzerland (11%).

Among UAE consumers 83% of those surveyed said they would spend more on travel in 2006. Almost half (43%) anticipated they would spend between 11%-25% more on personal travel, while 20% said they would spend 26%-50% more. Spending on business travel also looks set to increase in 2006. Almost half (48%) of UAE consumers surveyed anticipated spending up to 10% more on business travel, 35% anticipated spending between 11%- 25% more and 2% anticipated increased spending of between 51%-75%.

The majority of ME&L consumers surveyed (65%) said they were going to spend more this year on travel than they did last year.

Shopping is the main activity while on a personal travel trip for 69% of ME&L travelers surveyed. This was even higher among UAE consumers surveyed as 88% nominated shopping as their main holiday activity. This was followed by visiting family or friends (67%), entertainment (59%), rest and relaxation (43%) and general sightseeing (38%).

Safety and security is a concern with 87% of UAE consumers. Other concerns include losing a passport (37%), losing a wallet (36%), falling sick (34%), language barriers / not being able to get the right food or drink (32% each), losing baggage (28%). Across the ME&L concern over security and safety is the biggest worry (56%) for consumers who plan to travel this year. Surprisingly, the second biggest concern for ME&L travelers overall is the risk of catching a contagious disease like bird flu or AIDS (27%).

The majority of UAE travelers own some sort of payment card whether it is a credit card (72%), a debit card (73%) or a prepaid card (54%). Consumers offer a variety of reasons for carrying a payment card when they travel.

The latest survey results show that, across the ME&L the most popular reason for using a credit is that it is more secure than cash (77%). This is an increase on the results of the last survey conducted where 42% of those surveyed thought a credit card was more secure than cash. Other results from the latest survey show that across ME&L 42% thought a credit card was more convenient (as opposed to 28% in the last survey), 39% thought credit cards were widely accepted (against 34% in the last survey) and 34% said a credit card gave them better control over their spending (against 22% in the last survey). This indicates that confidence in payment cards and the value they add to the traveler is increasing.
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