Saudi travelers signal optimistic outlook for sector in post-pandemic era

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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A recent survey conducted by YouGov in Saudi Arabia reveals that nearly half of the respondents plan to travel internationally in 2021 once restrictions are eased in May, which signals a positive outlook for the Kingdom’s travel sector in the post-pandemic future.

Nabeel Kanoo, the president of Kanoo Travel, one of the largest travel service firms in the Middle East says that he is optimistic about the future of the industry, despite the ups and downs that the sector had experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The global situation has led to a decline in international travel over the past year, domestic travel increased by 11 percent since the beginning of the pandemic, urging travel companies in the Kingdom to reevaluate, reassess, and use the knowledge they had acquired to provide clients with better services.

Nabeel Kanoo
Nabeel Kanoo
President – Kanoo Travel

“For us at Kanoo, like all the other major organizations in Saudi Arabia, we have gone through a difficult but interesting time during COVID. It gave us time to relook at ourselves, realign ourselves and try to be better focused for the future. It was difficult in the beginning because nobody knew what was happening or how to react.”

Meanwhile, a recent study from the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) revealed that almost one-third of destinations across the world are completely closed to international visitors.

According to the UNWTO, the international tourist arrivals got declined by a billion or 74 percent last year which the organization described as “the worst year in tourism history” and cost the sector $1.3 trillion in lost revenue.

Mr. Kanoo stated that the pandemic had demanded the business be more aggressive and confident in how to move forward. Like almost every sector, the travel industry also witnessed an increased move toward doing business online. The COVID-19 has brought to light the strength of online booking as many people prefer it. Organizations have already started to adapt to the new travel trends.

“Despite the new norms, there would always be an opportunity to cater to international travelers. People will always want to travel from a tourism point of view. People will want to get out and visit foreign countries. As for the sector itself, I think you will see some new players in the market and also some old players just not being able to survive the pandemic,” Mr. Kanoo pointed out.

Kanoo Travel was launched in the late 1930s alongside the rise of Bahrain’s aviation industry. It was the first IATA member agency in the GCC and has grown to become the largest travel company in the Middle East.

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