2023 is a big year for the global tourism sector. Following COVID-19’s drawbacks and travel bans, this year takes on new challenges toward speedy recoveries and expansions. Throughout the first half of 2023, we have been observing bold travel trends spreading across the MENA region. We have compiled a list of the most loved travel styles and why are they taking our region by storm.

Here are the top five trends to watch for in 2023 so far:

1. Halal Tourism

Halal tourism is a faith-based segment of tourism catering to Muslims around the world. According to the New York Times, it is one of the fasting-growing travel styles in many countries outside the MENA region adopting the trend early on, such as Malaysia, Turkey, Malta, The Caribbean, and Croatia.

The concept behind Halal travel is to curate permissible services that align with Muslim teachings, including food, non-alcoholic hotels, and private swimming pools.

The Global Halal Tourism Organization has predicted that Halal tourism would increase by 73% from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.76 billion by 2050.

2. Well-being-led holidays

Thankfully, well-being holidays are here for the long haul. This trend was initiated after percentages of burnt-out and workaholic employees started regulating their time-out schedules and opting for well-being retreats. It is predicted that the wellness tourism industry will grow by 20.9% by 2025.

Not to be confused with medical tourism, a sector of tourism that has been around for ages, wellness tourism sought to motivate travelers and help them maintain a stress-free lifestyle. And it has been growing on a local and a regional scale across GCC and the Middle East.

3. Digital Nomadism

With the ever-growing number of remote workers, many countries enabled a new travel type that allowed foreigners to visit and work remotely for a certain duration. Currently, there are 54 countries offering digital nomad visas around the world. “Nearly a third of those from the UAE (31 percent) and 23 percent from Saudi Arabia plan to take a ‘work-away holiday’.” (via Economy Middle East)

This trend struck the balance between an increasing demand for travel and a strive to recover from dropping economic situations post-COVID.

While digital nomadism might not fit everyone, all eligible candidates are encouraged to apply and enjoy the benefits of moving to a new country – Each country’s requirement is different, some deduct full income tax, while others may provide special rates.

4. Sustainable Tourism

Sustainability has become a global priority in 2023, and so did sustainable tourism. The call for responsible traveling is not new but was given extra importance with the consequences of global warming and climate change.

After witnessing the environmental and economic damage across the globe, travelers started vouching for conscious traveling, shopping, and even promoting other responsible travel styles such as eco-tourism.

From carbon footprints to plastic waste, the entire industry is exerting efforts toward expanding sustainable travel. According to Booking.com: “Over half (53%) of global travelers want to travel more sustainably in the future.”

5. Revenge Travel

Just as the name suggests, the revenge travel phenomenon is a direct result of the COVID lockdown. Many travel enthusiasts were eager to resume their lives pre-lockdown, while others were excited to go on adventures and say goodbye to their savings. According to Google, the first months of 2022 saw a huge surge (300% jump) in passport appointment searches, and a 45% recovery volume in European airports was witnessed in 2023 (ACI Europe).

But make no mistake, the trend is not slowing down in 2023. Based on a survey conducted by The Hotelier Pulse Report’s 35th edition: Hoteliers surveyed in February 2023 are increasingly confident about business performance over the next 12 months, ranking business optimism 7,4 out of 10; Nearly 70% of hoteliers expect revenue to increase in 2023 vs. 2022.

By watching out for these trends and focusing on guest experience, hoteliers can position themselves to attract and retain guests in the years to come.


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