61% UAE travellers prefer independent trips over tour packages

by Staff Reporter
Published: Updated:
Visa Global Travel Intentions Study

Most of the UAE travellers (61%) prefer independent travel over packaged tours as it provides greater flexibility and control over their travel arrangements in case of last-minute changes, according to the 2023 Global Travel Intentions Study by Visa (NYSE: V), a global leader in digital payments.

The study also shows that 4 in 10 (40%) travellers are willing to pay a higher price to enjoy the flexibility of accommodating changes in their trip plans.

UAE travellers turning to digital wallets

UAE outbound travellers are increasingly safeguarding their travel experience through digital payments, with 70% opting for digital wallets during trips.

The study also finds that intra-regional travel is popular among UAE travellers, followed by inter-regional trips to Asia Pacific and Europe.

Visa Global Travel Intentions Study

The Visa Global Travel Intentions Study, which highlights emerging trends in consumer behaviors and preferences for outbound cross-border travel, is based on a survey conducted among UAE residents between the age groups 18-55 who travelled overseas for leisure in the past year and intend to travel further this year.

Salima Gutieva, Vice President and Country Manager for the UAE, Visa, said: “The latest Visa Global Travel Intentions Study reflects the UAE’s robust travel sector and a strong shift towards digital payments, signaling a surge in consumer confidence. UAE travellers increasingly seek to enhance their travel experience, which they can do by taking advantage of Visa’s privileges and discounted offers. We are dedicated to using these insights to meet the changing needs of global travelers with secure, convenient, and innovative payment solutions.”

UAE outbound travel insights

The Global Travel Intentions Study found a significant surge in travel activity, with no signs of slowing down, even amidst rising costs. As per the sample of UAE outbound travellers surveyed, India, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia are the top destinations for travel in the last 12 months. Despite 77% of UAE travellers noting increased travel expenses, only 3% would consider postponing or cancelling their trips, indicating a robust and enduring enthusiasm for travel. Surveyed UAE outbound travelers took an average of two international trips for around 10 days in the last 12 months. Travelers prioritize trips for relaxation (58%), followed by the need to meet family and friends (42%), exploring something new (33%), and seeking adventures (33%).

Travel spending patterns

The findings of the Global Travel Intentions Study show families traveling with older kids are the biggest spenders (66%) at destinations among all the demographic profiles, while Gen Z travellers tend to spend most before the trip. During travel, the largest spending categories include fashion-related transactions, restaurants or cafes, and accommodation, which is supported by Visa data.


The 2023 Global Travel Intentions Study highlights that digital wallets (70%) have become an integral aspect of spending, in addition to credit cards. While affluent travellers used digital wallets 16% more than the average traveller, 83% of surveyed residents habitually used the same card that they used for domestic expenses in UAE, while traveling. In addition, acceptance and lower fee are primary factors influencing the choice of card.

Payment concerns pre-trip

Most travellers (85%) had payment concerns before their trip. Among the top fears were concerns about card acceptance (29%), the cost of currency conversion at the destination (26%) and ATM withdrawal costs (24%). While Gen Z was most worried about card fraud (62%), affluent travelers (68%) had cash-related concerns.

Sustainable travel options

About three-quarters of travellers (73%) are aware of eco-friendly travel, and nearly half of them (49%) actively sought out sustainable travel choices during their most recent trip. Sustainable accommodation (32%) and energy-efficient transport (27%) were top on their list of traveling sustainably. Yet, most (73%) struggle to access the information required to make sustainable travel choices. Providing more information on sustainable travel could drive more interest and adoption of sustainable options.

Visa integrates benefits to complement travel itinerary

Planning an itinerary can be quite a complex affair, where travellers are always on the lookout for the next best deal. Visa delivers autonomy to cardholders by providing them with a range of discounted choices for hotel offers, car rentals, travel insurance, and concierge services during the planning and booking phase, including Booking.com, Avis, Jumeirah hotels, and the Visa Luxury Hotel Collection.

In addition to many privileges during the day of travel including airport transfers, airport check-in and baggage transfer offers, meet and assist, airport lounges, and more, Visa enhances the travel experience with tickets to popular tourist attractions as well as emergency medical attention during their times of need.

More importantly, travellers need to feel safe during their trip. While supporting digital payments to enhance the travel experience, Visa’s added security features support travelers in the event of card loss and fraudulent card misuse.


You may also like

Leave a Comment