MENA Key Highlights

  • MENA search activity has been flat in July plateauing at approximately a third of the activity in 2019
  • Despite muted recovery so far, Bahrain in GCC, North Africa and Turkey provide positive stories
  • Recovery curves look very different market to market both in shape and in composition 
  • The recent resurgence of cases has slowed down the reopening of travel yet as borders open, should provide a boost  in searches
  • Continuous success in containing the coronavirus is key to further travel recovery

GCC: Travel Interest

GCC: Top Destinations

KSA: Travel Interest

  • Total daily searches continue to float between 25%-30% of 2019 levels
  • Interest in hotels and domestic flights is at low 40s and continues to exceed international flights
  • Interest in international flights has remained stagnant in the low 20s due to travel restrictions
  • While lacking luster, there are some reasons for optimism:
    • The rate of COVID-19 testing has roughly tripled over the past thirty 30 days
    • Despite increased testing, new cases are less than in mid-June
    • Test positivity rate has dropped from as high as 20% to nearly 5% indicating situation is getting under control

UAE: Travel Interest

  • Recovery has been consistent thanks to the gradual relaxation of lockdown measures and travel restrictions
  • At around 40% 2019 levels, UAE is seeing the strongest recovery within the GCC together with Bahrain
  • Dubai’s decision to reopen on 7th July impacted inbound tourism and had measured impact on domestic activity
  • Consistently around 1%, UAE has by far the best test positivity rate in the region and on par with countries like Netherlands, Belgium and Italy

Kuwait: Travel Interest

  • In expectation of the lifting of lockdown measures, early July saw increased activity particularly for domestic hotels
  • While interest in travel is still under 30% of 2019 levels, the easing of lockdown measures and the planned resumption of commercial flights in August will play a vital role in the recovery of the travel sector
  • COVID test positivity rate has remained stubbornly high indicating recovery might be protracted 

Qatar: Travel Interest

  • Qatar has continued to gradually recover enjoying some of the highest levels of user activity across the GCC
  • Unlike most other carriers, Qatar Airways has kept flight schedules at levels close to those of last year which has helped interest in flights remain relatively strong
  • While still not completely under control, the COVID situation has been consistently improving since early June: 
    • New cases have dropped from almost 2,000/day to nearly 500/day
    • Test positivity is down to 12% from a peak of almost 40%

Bahrain: Travel Interest

  • Early July saw Bahrain enjoying the strongest recovery among the GCC countries 
  • With the COVID situation increasingly under control, flights have surged to a daily peak of 80% of 2019 average
  • Domestic hotels ( not shown in the table above) have also surged peaking at 85% yet searches for international hotels remain stagnant bringing the overall hotel performance down

Oman: Travel Interest

  • Struggling to contain the pandemic Oman has taken a step back in July with both flights and hotels decreasing from already low levels
  • Oman is yet to make the improvements in dealing with the pandemic. Test positivity rate has consistently been in the mid-30% range while no other GCC country is above 20%.  
  • Based on how long other severely-hit countries have taken to control the pandemic, we don’t expect to see an improvement in travel interest before August

North Africa: Travel Interest

North Africa: Top Destinations

Egypt: Travel Interest

  • Egypt has been seeing a sustained growth in travel interest and daily volumes now frequently exceed 50% of 2019 levels
  • With Egyptair resuming operations in July, the recent growth has been led by international flights which have started to catch up with domestic flights
  • The allure for having a unique chance to experience Egypt’s iconic attractions free of the usual influx of international tourists continues to support local tourism to a respectable level

Tunisia: Travel Interest

  • The EU cemented Tunisia’s reputation for having successfully dealt with the coronavirus by listing it among the handful of safe countries whose citizens can enter the bloc without restrictions
  • The boost of confidence has led to a continued increase in travel interest across both flights and hotels and across many destinations

Morocco: Travel Interest

  • Similar to Tunisia, the inclusion of Morocco among the safe countries has boosted confidence and lead to a continued increase in travel interest with domestic flights in particular now consistently exceeding 2019 levels! 
  • After we reported a surge in interest in distant major cities like Agadir, Fes and Tangier, July saw Morocco’s two major cities- Casablanca and Marrakesh experiencing a strong surge in demand as well 
  • While worrying, the recent increase in new COVID-19 cases is largely a result of increased testing.  At about 2%, test positivity rate continues to be well within Europe’s acceptable range

Algeria: Travel Interest

  • While Algeria has been worse hit by the pandemic than both neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia, the country nevertheless made the EU list of safe countries
  • In contrast to both Morocco and Tunisia, Algeria doesn’t report testing data and the positive EU decision has failed to translate into a surge of travel interest and activity has largely remained subdued 

Turkey: Travel Interest

Turkey: Top Destinations

Turkey: Travel Interest

  • After the major outbreak of cases in April, Turkey has successfully managed to contain the spread of the virus in May and gradually re-opened in June 
  • Turkey’s proactive and extensive testing program inside the country as well as the launch testing centers in airports has boosted confidence in both domestic and inbound tourism  
  • Similar to Egypt, a lot of Turkish people have been eager to experience their country free of tourists while tapping on some great deals

Levant: Travel Interest

Levant: Top Destinations

Lebanon: Travel Interest

  • Flight interest surged to over 80% of 2019 levels boosted by the resumption of flights, the large Lebanese diaspora and the economic fears about the upcoming months
  • Difficult economic conditions are likely taming interest in hotels as they remain subdued in contrast to flights
  • Trends in Lebanon are the exact opposite of these in neighbouring Jordan

Jordan: Travel Interest

  • The continued growth in hotel interest continued in July surpassing 60% of 2019 level 
  • At less than 30%, flights continue to be largely mute as limited number of international flights are in operation. Yet, all Jordan airports are expected to reopen before the end of July, so a surge of flight activity is possible
  • Royal Jordanian resumed domestic flights in late June and interest in domestic flights has continuously been above 2019 levels