Almosafer report unveils Saudi Arabia's travel trends

Almosafer report unveils Saudi Arabia's travel trends

Saudi domestic travel up 29%, while East and South-East Asia and low-cost airlines rise in popularity

According to a newly released report by Saudi Arabia’s leading travel company Almosafer, Dubai, Doha, Manama, Cairo and Istanbul remain the top favourite destinations among Saudi Arabian travellers. 

The report also shows that there has been a significant shift of focus towards South Asia and the Far East, with Tokyo, Singapore and Bangkok welcoming increased footfall from Saudi travellers.

European capitals, including Madrid and Amsterdam, are also emerging as trending destinations. 

Analysing booking data from Almosafer's consumer travel platforms across the first four months of 2024, the company found steady growth in demand for both domestic and international travel by Saudi travellers.

Domestically, government and private sector initiatives to boost local tourism are showing dividends. Some 53% of total bookings made across Almosafer’s booking channels were for travel within the country – a 29% increase in domestic booking volume. 

Flights alone saw a 27% increase, while hotel bookings nearly doubled at 40%. The top destinations drawing Saudi travellers domestically continue to be Makkah, Riyadh, Jeddah, Al Khobar and Abha. New hotspots like Tabuk, Hail and AlUla, thanks to the rising popularity of luxury resorts like Banyan Tree AlUla, are also trending destinations this year.

The findings also give valuable insights into booking habits and travel preferences. For example, Saudi travellers utilise the convenience of online booking channels with 91% of total bookings placed on Almosafer web, app or mobile web products. However, for more complex itineraries or personal travel advisory, travellers opt for retail channels, with 9% off all bookings recorded across retail branches, call centres and WhatsApp. 

WhatsApp continues to rise as a vital booking channel with 12% of retail bookings coming through the instant messaging app. 

Data showcases an overall jump from 55% in 2023 to 62% among travellers opting to fly low-cost this year. Internationally this year 46% of total bookings were done for low-cost carriers compared to 44% in 2023. Domestically, LCC bookings have seen a jump from 68% in 2023 to 72% in the total share of bookings in 2024.

For accommodation bookings, Saudi travellers depend on peer-to-peer recommendations which are gathering momentum, as 48% of travellers who book online browse and interact with the reviews from peers about the hotels, to ensure the property they are booking offers value for money.

Saudi travellers are taking advantage of the increased offering for local activities. Concert tickets, Riyadh season passes, access to attractions and culturally-focused events are among the top activities in demand, with the average booking window for these being as short as 3.5 days.  

Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah and Dammam are the top cities within Saudi Arabia for leisure activities, while international travellers are booking activities in Dubai, Bangkok, Phuket and Abu Dhabi.

Almosafer chief executive officer Muzzammil Ahussain said: “Almosafer’s travel trend report showcases a vibrant domestic and international tourism sector, while Saudi travellers continue to explore their own country and destinations further afield. Our customers are finding more ways to get value from their trip, with convenience being a key factor in their travel decision-making. With affordable flight options, new accommodation offerings and flexible payment options, there is nothing holding travellers back from going on trips and making lifetime memories.”

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