From Forest Bathing to ‘Me time’ making the mainstream Skyscanner Reveals Travel Predictions

Pocket friendly trends dominate as travel spending continues but savvier than ever

New research from global travel site Skyscanner has revealed Saudi Arabian holidaymakers are expecting another strong year of travel despite economic uncertainty, but price-led decision making will drive change in 2023. With 62% of travellers in Saudi Arabia planning to spend the same if not more on travel abroad next year, how they are going to spend will differ. The extent of these changes is revealed in Skyscanner’s detailed Travel Trends 2023 report.

Key trends to come out of the report show that Saudi Arabia travellers don’t want the holiday to stop on a Monday morning, but to work where they could holiday too. Saudi Arabia travellers are also craving experiences grounded in nature and wellbeing. A way to reset and feel normal again.  Expect friends to ditch each other in favour of solo adventures, sneaky smartphone travel searches in the workplace and holidaymakers navigating the cost-of-living crisis to ensure their time away remains a priority.

For travel in 2023, there’s a lot we want to do differently and some bold expectations on what future travel will entail. Future gazing sees almost one in three people expecting holidays amongst the stars to be a mainstream reality in their lifetime, whilst closer to home, advances in supersonic technology could re-define short-haul travel.

Naomi Hahn, VP of strategy comments:

“It is clear that we’re hungrier than ever to discover something new – even though we might have less in our pockets next year. The aftermath of a pandemic has made travelers look for ways to make up for lost time and create new experiences and memories. 

Consumers have become savvier to value post pandemic the squeeze on personal spending has shown that consumers will still prioritise getting away but are increasingly shopping around on metasearch platforms like Skyscanner and employing simple travel hacks to ensure they get the most for their money, like being flexible in terms of dates and destination. The year looks set to be a year of new discoveries as emerging, pocket friendly destinations come to the fore.”

Skyscanner commissioned its deep-dive research into consumer attitudes and behaviours, combined with proprietary search and booking insights, to reveal its travel predictions. Skyscanner’s report, Travel Trends 2023: The year of price-driven decisions analyses survey data from 2,000 consumers in Saudi Arabia and beyond as well as extensive search and redirect data to provide unique insights into travel plans for 2023 and beyond.

Key trends revealed:

  • Travel remains a priority: As consumers today look to make better, informed decisions about their discretionary spend, our recent polling revealed: 62% of Saudi Arabia consumers are planning more holidays next year compared to 2023, and over a quarter (27%) are thinking of going on the same number of holidays. Just 4% are planning to holiday less next year.The rising cost of living is still a concern, but 40% have decided to prioritise holidays next year over other big-ticket items.
  • Shift in spending: 85% of Saudi Arabia travellers are planning to spend the same if not more on travel abroad next year, whilst only 8% are planning to spend less.
  • Best value destinations for 2023: Skyscanner can also reveal the destinations that have seen the biggest price drops since pre-pandemic are:
  1. Vienna, Austria – 32% price drop
  2. Baku, Azerbaijan – 31% price drop
  3. Johannesburg, South Africa – 22% price drop
  • Skyscanner’s 2023 hotlist: Travellers are increasingly on the hunt for less popular places that offer undiscovered experiences and unlock better value breaks. In fact, Skyscanner’s Everywhere search is regularly in the top searches post pandemic. Check out some of the destinations that have seen the biggest increase in searches:

Family hot list: 

  • Vienna, Austria (190% increase in searches)
  • London, UK (60% increase in searches)
  • Los Angeles, USA (36% increase in searches)

Couples hot list: 

  • Manila, Philippines (664% increase in searches)
  • Bangkok, Thailand (288% increase in searches)
  • Rome, Italy (53% increase in searches)
  • Solo travelling is no longer a niche; 56% of Saudi Arabia travellers are looking to escape solo next year. Taking time for themselves is top of mind, with 44% of travelers citing a solo travel trip being important for their mental health wellness, with one week deemed the perfect duration to help the mind unwind.
  • Sustainability; Sustainable travel continues to grow in consideration for travellers’ decision making: travel related sustainability is important to 4 out of 5 global respondents (81%). For more than 1 in 4 (28%) it’s even more important now, than prior to the pandemic. With price-led decision making and sustainable travel both top of mind, 15% are considering new, alternative destinations for travel as they are cheaper to visit.*
  • Nature first; Wildlife spotting and hiking are in the top 5 of travel activities planned for holidays, suggesting the pandemic’s emphasis on getting outside for walks and connecting with the local environment is now transferring as a key component of travel plans. Interacting with the environment and watching animals has mood-boosting properties.  Skyscanner recommends getting amongst green nature and experiencing the meditative effects of Shinrin-yoku, a new wellness trend that literally means ‘forest bathing’ in 2023.
  • Making work work for you (and your wallet): A third of Saudi Arabia travellers surveyed (32%) plan to work whilst on holiday next year, a strategic move for which the top reasons being that respondents ‘enjoy working while travelling’ and ‘it suits the people I’m travelling with’.. Cross-referencing the long list of countries that now offer digital nomad visas with their cities’ cost of living index unearths a selection of savvy options for 2023. All cheaper than Riyadh’s cost of living index**, Skyscanner’s favourites include:
City with Digital Nomad visa % cheaper than Riyadh’s cost of living index Cheapest month to visit
Mexico City, Mexico

Zagreb, Croatia

Madrid, Spain

23

10

2

April

February

November

  • Sneaky smartphone searches & social media’s influence; 98% of Saudi Arabia travellers now use a mobile device to book their next trip, with the most popular moment being at home or whilst at work. Friends and family (75%) are the number one source of travel inspiration in Saudi Arabia, followed by influencers and celebrities. Instagram is the most FOMO inducing – 67% of travellers stated they’re more likely to book a trip if they’ve seen it on the platform.
  • Future travel; 2053 will mark 150 years of the Wright Brothers first airplane flight, a lot has changed since then and travellers are expecting significant developments to be mainstream when hitting that milestone in 30 years’ time.
    • Advances in supersonic technology could re-define short-haul travel and Skyscanner’s report reveals 33% of travellers believe it will be a mainstream flight option in the future
    • 31% think virtual reality holidays that are so real they are indistinguishable from real life will be the norm
    • 27% expect to holiday amongst the stars in their lifetime, climbing aboard space craft for Earth sight-seeing day trips to the edge of space and longer trips beyond

Check out these and other findings in the full Travel Trends 2023: The year of price-driven decisions report, which you can download here.

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