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Middle East & Africa promise to be the next frontier destinations

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The Middle East and Africa is gaining momentum as a destination market, driven by a growing global desire for diverse travel experiences and as a source market, boosted by a rising middle class. Evolving economic circumstances led most of the countries in the region to invest in tourism, allowing for more diverse experiences for travellers and greater accessibility and affordability.  For example, in the Middle East, the opening and expanding of the entertainment industry in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Countries is spurring interest in the region. Moreover, the development of technologies that simplify the tourist experience has given a leading role to those countries who have invested in smart city innovations.  It is expected that they will be responsible for the growing interest in tourism over 2018-2023.

A rising middle class is also bringing further dynamism to the region, representing a new consumer segment with a growing interest for travel. Airlines are answering this demand by diversifying their portfolio, with flexible pricing and increased destinations.  This evolution has progressed due to the changing competitive landscape and increased travel destinations, instigated by the upcoming opening of further African airspace and the high volume of partnerships struck with international players in the Middle East.  In addition, the fast-growing presence of low cost carriers is set to carry considerable weight in the expansion of the travel industry, not only because they’ll be able to reach a consumer market with a lower income level, but because they will force national carriers to innovate to stay competitive.

As important, the region is a global leader in mobile money, which is a key driver of an expanding consumer market. Airlines are already adapting by accepting mobile money payments, such as Mpesa or AirTel, which is going to bring broader inclusion, enabling them to reach a wider target audience. Overall, innovation through technology is bringing exciting changes to the Middle East and African region, highlighting a highly untapped potential destination market.

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