South-east Asian destinations are prepping to grab a share of the burgeoning Middle East market once travel resumes by rolling out digital campaigns and holding talks with airlines.
At the inaugural Arabian Travel Market Virtual, representatives of national tourism boards from the Philippines, Nepal and Singapore said they are currently putting plans in place to tap into the huge potential the Middle East holds.
According to a UNWTO study held before the pandemic, Middle East outbound numbers were slated to hit 46 million this year and 61 million by 2030. The region also boasts the highest average expenditure in the world, with Saudi Arabia alone expected to reach US$43 billion by 2025.
Nandini Lahe-Thapa, senior director at Nepal Tourism Board, said they are creating packages and revival strategies aimed at the region. The market has been split into three groups: expats, Indians working in the region who regularly send their family to Nepal, and Middle East citizens.
Direct marketing programmes are being built to target them and talks held with airlines and trade partners on the ground.
Said Lahe-Thapa: “This is a market we have strongly been looking at as we’re very well-connected with the Middle East with many flights. This is a huge potential market waiting for us.”
Beverly Au Yong, area director for the Middle East at Singapore Tourism Board, said the Middle East’s population is digital-savvy – an element they are using creatively to capture the market.
She added: “Our marketing campaign will continue to have a strong focus on the digital front. The Middle East market also rely on information from influencers and word-of-mouth from key opinion leaders, so these are things we will work on.”
Daks Gonzales, head of the office of product and market development for India and the Middle East at the Philippines Department of Tourism, said they plan to promote the Philippines’ wealth of nature and remote islands to the market.
He added that marketing stakeholders in the Middle East reported more than 70 per cent of clients are already looking into travel arrangements. He said: “As soon as regulations in place and supply chains start to open, I’m sure there will be demand from the Middle East region and we are ready.”