This year’s Ramadan travel has not shown to measure up to pre-pandemic numbers, as ForwardKeys data has revealed.
As of March 31, outbound flight bookings from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states for the three weeks running up to Eid Al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, were 38% behind where they were in the equivalent period in 2019; while for the three weeks after Eid al-Fitr, outbound flight booking are currently 67% behind.
Meanwhile, GCC outbound flight bookings for the peak Ramadan holiday period from April 14 to 24 seem to be doing better, just 32% behind 2019. Flight bookings from Saudi Arabia are 44% behind but travel from other major GCC countries is seeing a stronger recovery, with Kuwait 27% behind, Qatar 11% behind, the UAE 6% behind and Bahrain 2% ahead.
Flight bookings to GCC countries are more encouraging, currently 12% behind 2019. Travel to Saudi Arabia are 40% behind 2019, and bookings for Kuwait are 43% behind. However, bookings for Bahrain are 16% ahead, and Qatar, the UAE and Oman stand at 39%, 47% and 48% ahead respectively.
The top trending destination by Ramadan holidaymakers from GCC countries is the Maldives, which is 177% ahead of 2019. There is also a surge in affluent visitors, as evidenced by a 9% increase in premium cabin bookings. This is followed by Qatar, 91% ahead, Thailand 65% ahead, the Netherlands 37% ahead, Pakistan 25% ahead, the UAE 22% ahead, Italy 20% ahead, France 14% ahead and the UK 1% ahead.
Olivier Ponti, VP insights, ForwardKeys, said: “Ramadan travel this year is still far behind the heights it reached before the pandemic in 2019. However, a major factor in assessing the recovery of Ramadan travel are the dates when the festival falls due. In 2019 Eid al-Fitr was in June, a much better time of the year to travel, as the end of Ramadan was close to the start of the long summer school holidays in Saudi Arabia.”