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In a first, Egypt among top 10 most popular travel destinations in MasterCard Institute rankings

Egypt has successfully reached the list of the ten most popular tourist destinations for 2023, taking seventh place according to a MasterCard Economics Institute report, the first time Egypt has made the ranking since the report began.

The MasterCard Economics Institute released its Travel Industry Trends 2023 Report, which provides a snapshot of global travel amid ongoing economic changes, the reopening of China’s borders and rising consumer demand – including those in the Middle East and North Africa region.

According to the report, consumers are benefiting from the return of the traditional travel system in 2023, with priority for leisure travel as they wish to travel to new destinations around the world.

The continuous demand for leisure travel was the most prominent scene for the tourism sector this year, it added.

Business travel came in second place directly after leisure tourism, as it rebounded during the second half of 2022, particularly in cultures that still prioritize returning to the office.

In light of economic fluctuations that cast a shadow on various markets, the report stated that the reopening of China’s borders is expected to contribute to driving the growth of the global travel sector.


The key takeaways revealed by the report:

The desire to travel to new destinations:

New changes have emerged in the sector during the current year, as travelers want to explore new destinations closer to their countries.

This year, Egypt and Saudi Arabia reached the list of the ten most popular destinations, occupying the seventh and eighth positions, respectively.

While the UK, the US, the UAE and France maintained their positions among the top four international destinations among travelers leaving the Middle East.


• Business and leisure travel grows at the same pace:

Business and leisure travel both grew at equal rates, at 42 percent year-on-year between 2022 and 2023.

During the second half of 2022-2023, corporate flight bookings are now toe-to-toe with leisure travel, particularly in areas that focus heavily on returning to work from the office.

Between January and March, leisure travel bookings in the UAE increased by 49.5 percent compared to the same period in 2022.


• Preferring unique experiences over buying things continues for travelers from around the world:

Travelers prefer lesser-known destinations in search of cultural interaction, and this trend may have been driven by social media and entertainment.

Travelers are increasingly seeking unique experiences in destinations across the world, with spending on experiences up 65 percent while spending on things up 12 percent compared to 2019 as of March 2023.

The Middle East and North Africa region is witnessing a similar trend with a significant increase in spending on goods in some countries, such as Morocco, which recorded a massive increase of 117.5 percent on an annual basis by March.


• Business and leisure travel continues to recover:

Small business spending in the region on travel and leisure increased significantly, by 49 percent in March 2023 compared to March 2022.

This rising trend continued between January and March 2023, reaching 56 percent compared to the same period in 2022. In March 2023, spending in the region increased to 78 percent compared to March 2022. In contrast, large companies recorded lower growth rates of 14 percent, 40 percent, and 37 percent respectively during these periods.

One major highlight from the report is a focus on experience rather than buying things, the chief economist for Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa Mastercard David Mann said.

This strong trend is evident in aftermath of easing travel restrictions, he added.

Another thing that left a strong imprint on the sector was the diversity in travel styles.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt reaching the list of the ten most popular destinations among travelers demonstrates successful recovery plans in the Middle East and North Africa, Mann added.



Comprehensive support for the travel and tourism sector

Today’s travelers expect a comfortable and distinguished travel experience at every stage, from booking a plane ticket to the moment they arrive at their new destination.

Companies that understand the importance of this are in a better position to build longer bonds and relations with consumers.

This shift in expectations is beginning to change how companies treat customers as well as travel.

With consumer behavior and attitudes constantly shifting, along with changes in the macroeconomic environment, providing more choices in payment methods (such as redeeming points for reservations) while granting recommendations, offers, and tailored travel experiences are foolproof strategies at boosting traveler engagement.

MasterCard provides a range of services aimed at helping the recovery of the global tourism industry, granting travelers a wide range of services while preparing market reports and analytics to research the changing wants and needs of consumer interests and how marketing can keep up.

The “MasterCard Travel and Lifestyle Services” platform provides travel planning services and a variety of offers, reservations, guarantees, and personal support services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. gives travelers access to unique experiences, benefits and special offers such as “MasterCard Travel Rewards”, while the “MasterCard Easy Savings” platform provides small business travelers with discounts and purchasing power offers at digital business service providers, fine dining restaurants, international retailers and hotels.


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