New research from global travel site Skyscanner has revealed UAE holidaymakers are expecting another strong year of travel despite economic uncertainty, but price-led decision-making will drive change in 2023. With 88% of UAE travellers planning to spend the same, if not more, on travel abroad next year, how they will spend will differ. The extent of these changes is revealed in Skyscanner's detailed Travel Trends 2023 report.
Key trends from the report show that UAE travellers don't want the holiday to stop on a Monday morning but to work where they could holiday too. Expect friends to ditch each other in favour of solo adventures, sneaky smartphone travel searches in the workplace and holidaymakers navigating the cost-of-living crisis to ensure their time away remains a priority. UAE travellers are also craving experiences grounded in nature and well-being. A way to reset and feel normal again.
For travel in 2023, there's a lot we want to do differently, and some bold expectations on what future travel will entail. Future gazing sees almost one in three people expecting holidays amongst the stars to be a mainstream reality in their lifetime, whilst closer to home, advances in supersonic technology could redefine short-haul travel.
Skyscanner commissioned its deep-dive research into consumer attitudes and behaviours, combined with proprietary search and booking insights, to reveal its travel predictions. Skyscanner's report, Travel Trends 2023: The year of price-driven decisions, analyses survey data from 2,000 consumers in the UAE and beyond as well as extensive search and redirect data to provide unique insights into travel plans for 2023 and beyond.
Key trends revealed:
- Travel remains a priority: As consumers today look to make better, informed decisions about their discretionary spending, our recent polling revealed: 69% of UAE consumers are planning more holidays next year compared to 2023, and a quarter (24%) are thinking of going on the same number of holidays. Just 3% are planning to holiday less next year. The rising cost of living is still a concern, but 39% have decided to prioritise holidays next year over other big-ticket items.
- Shift in spending: 88% of UAE travellers plan to spend the same, if not more, on travel abroad next year, whilst only 9% are planning to spend less.
- Best value destinations for 2023: Skyscanner can also reveal the destinations that have seen the biggest price drops since pre-pandemic :
- Santorini, Greece – 56% price drop
- Vienna, Austria – 45% price drop
- Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina – 42% price drop
- Skyscanner's 2023 hotlist: Travellers are increasingly hunting for less popular places that offer undiscovered experiences and unlock better value breaks. Skyscanner's Everywhere search is regularly in the top searches post-pandemic. Check out some of the destinations that have seen the biggest increase in searches:
Family hot list:
- Vienna, Austria (146% increase in searches)
- Los Angeles, USA (110% increase in searches)
- London, UK (23% increase in searches)
Couples hot list:
- Phuket Island, Thailand (75% increase in searches)
- Athens, Greece (34% increase in searches)
- Glasgow, UK (54% increase in searches)
- Solo travelling is no longer a niche; 69% of travellers from the UAE are considering going on holiday on their own in 2023. Beach holidays and pampering breaks are top of their' me time' moments, possibly reflecting the breadth of options for travellers if they decide to travel solo and locally in the region, from Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coastline to Oman's mystical beauty and the UAE's extensive collection of beach-fronted high-end hotels.
- Sustainability; Sustainable travel continues to grow in consideration for travellers' decision-making: travel-related sustainability is important to 4 out of 5 global respondents (81%). For more than 1 in 4 (28%), it's even more important now than prior to the pandemic. With price-led decision-making and sustainable travel both top of mind, 15% are considering new, alternative destinations for travel as they are cheaper to visit. *
- Nature first; Wildlife spotting and hiking are in the top 5 travel activities planned for holidays, suggesting the pandemic's emphasis on getting outside for walks and connecting with the local environment is now transferring as a key component of travel plans. Interacting with the environment and watching animals has mood-boosting properties. Skyscanner recommends getting amongst green nature and experiencing the meditative effects of Shinrin-yoku, a new wellness trend that literally means 'forest bathing' in 2023.
- Making work work for you (and your wallet): Over a third of UAE travellers surveyed (36%) plan to work whilst on holiday next year, a strategic move for which the top reasons being that respondents' enjoy working while travelling' and 'it means I get more time in the destination.' Cross-referencing the long list of countries that now offer digital nomad visas with their cities' cost of living index unearths a selection of savvy options for 2023. All cheaper than Dubai's cost of living index**, Skyscanner's favourites include:
City with Digital Nomad visa
% cheaper than Dubai’s cost of living index
|Cheapest month to visit|
|Mexico City, Mexico|
- Sneaky smartphone searches & social media's influence; 99% of UAE travellers now use a mobile device to plan or book their next trip, with the most popular moment being at home or whilst at work. Friends and family are the number one source of travel inspiration in the UAE, followed by social media and then celebrities. Instagram is the most FOMO inducing app – 73% of travellers stated they're more likely to book a trip if they've seen it on the platform.
- Future travel; 2053 will mark 150 years of the Wright Brothers' first aeroplane flight, a lot has changed since then, and travellers are expecting significant developments to be mainstream when hitting that milestone in 30 years' time.
- Advances in supersonic technology could redefine short-haul travel, and Skyscanner's report reveals 35% of travellers believe it will be a mainstream flight option in the future
- Over a third (34%) think virtual reality holidays that are so real they are indistinguishable from real life will be the norm
- 31% expect to holiday amongst the stars in their lifetime, climbing aboard spacecraft for Earth sight-seeing day trips to the edge of space and longer trips beyond
Check out additional findings in the full Travel Trends 2023: The year of price-driven decisions report, which you can download here.