The industry is flourishing at an unprecedented rate with online bookings growing by nearly a third this year, as stated in a research co-sponsored by Travelport.
According to the study conducted by PhoCusWright – online travel sales in the Middle East will grow 31% from 2011 to almost US$10.4 billion this year and are set to reach US$15.8 billion by 2014. This means that in 2014, online bookings will make up nearly a quarter (22%) of all travel bookings made in the region.
There is also rapid development of regional Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), which are growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 18% between 2010 and 2014. In 2011, 39% of all online bookings in the Middle East were made via OTAs and the gross booking value via OTAs is set to nearly double from US$3.1 billion to US$6 billion by 2014.
Air remains the strongest category online, accounting for 67% of all online travel bookings in 2011. Online hotel sales in the Middle East accounted for 32% in 2011 and car rentals made up the remaining 1%. Notably, 59% of all online hotel bookings were made through OTAs as opposed to direct bookings via hotel websites.
The study, aptly titled ‘Assessing the Online Travel Opportunity: The Middle East’, was carried out across 10 Middle East countries involving UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman and looks at online travel trends in the region between 2010 and 2014.