Industry Update
Press Release11 April 2017

Visitors linger longer in UAE

New visa attracts increased layovers

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Bench Events

The United Arab Emirates has succeeded in boosting the length of time that travellers stay in the country using longer layovers and connections between Europe and America with Asian destinations. The fastest growing group is now those staying between six to eight nights, according to ForwardKeys which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 16 million booking transactions a day.


Although short stays – one to three nights – represented 67% of arrivals during the last 12 months, stays longer than three nights grew more quickly.

Details of the ForwardKeys analysis will be presented at the influential 13th Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai April 25 to 27, organised by Bench Global Business Events.

The figures – partly fuelled by the 96-hour visa for any airline traveller in Dubai – will be seen as good news by industry leaders gathering at AHIC, which each year hosts more than 700 of the most powerful people in the hospitality sector.

Olivier Jager, CEO, ForwardKeys, said: "These findings show significant progress in the UAE's attractiveness as a destination and further potential advancement for the UAE economy. I'm sure the details will fuel interesting discussions at AHIC."

Bench events Chairman Jonathan Worsley, said: "News of this trend will also be welcomed by delegates at another of our upcoming events in the UAE, the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF). The hospitality sector in the UAE is closely linked with airline activity, so these figures, revealing longer stays, will mean more revenue for hotels and restaurants located there."

The ForwardKeys data shows that overall bookings for short stays – one to three nights – are currently running ahead of last year for April and May while June is lagging behind because of the quieter Ramadan period. Forward bookings from the UK, France and Indonesia remain strong.

The UK, USA, and Kuwait all contributed to the growth of both short-stay and long-stay travellers to the UAE. Chinese arrivals for long-stays boomed when the free-of-charge, visa-on-arrival was introduced for them in November 2016. The Chinese also flocked to the UAE for their New Year 2017.

Looking ahead, bookings for long stays in Dubai are currently more than 28% ahead of last year, driven by European and US travellers planning Easter and Spring holidays. Russians will also be arriving in increasing numbers, not only for the Easter weekend, but also in late April and early May for Spring holiday, Labour Day and Victory Day. Saudi Arabia also contributes to the Easter booking surge – possibly due to expats living there taking a break in the UAE.

About ForwardKeys
ForwardKeys predicts future travel patterns by crunching and analysing 16m booking transactions a day. It is used by travel marketers, retailers, hotels, destination marketing organisations (DMOs), financial institutions, car rental companies, tour operators, online travel agents (OTAs), and other traveller-focussed businesses worldwide to monitor and anticipate traveller arrivals and stay ahead of the trends from a particular origin market at a specific time. The analysis enables them to anticipate the impact of events, better manage their staffing levels, fine tune supply requirements, adjust and measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts and predict future market trends. ForwardKeys' data is retrieved daily from all the major global reservation systems worldwide.

Related Event

Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC)2018

AHIC Village, Waldorf Astoria — Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
event information

About Bench Events

Global event organiser Bench Events has a long track record of delivering multiple premium hotel investment conferences and forums across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Market leading annual conferences include the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai, now in its 13th year, the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) the new Asia Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (AHTIC), The Summit in London and the Latin American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conferences (SAHIC). Bench Events" extensive portfolio also includes the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) in Dubai and AviaDev, designed to promote the future air connectivity in Africa. Bench Events" mission is enabling prosperity by facilitating growth, networking, and thought leadership in the hospitality industry worldwide.

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