Riyadh, Jeddah take top spots as Saudi Arabia mobile bookings for air travel up 116% in 2017

Over a quarter of trips taken last year had an average duration of six days while about 18 percent took 35 days or more, with the most preferred months for travel in August and July. (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 March 2018
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Riyadh, Jeddah take top spots as Saudi Arabia mobile bookings for air travel up 116% in 2017

DUBAI: Mobile bookings for air travel rose a hefty 116 percent in Saudi Arabia in 2017, although desktop remained the dominant platform in the wider region for purchasing flight tickets, travel company Cleartrip said in its 2017 Travel Insights Report.

Among the major cities in the region, Riyadh had the highest rate of mobile bookings at 32 percent of all transactions there, with Jeddah close by at 31 percent, the report said. Mobile bookings in the kingdom also comprised almost a third of all tickets purchases in the kingdom last year, Cleartrip added.

The 2017 Travel Insights Report also noted the tendency to book tickets through the desktop as the number of customers increased, while solo travelers tended to use mobile devices for their flight reservations. The majority of bookings in the region – and Saudi Arabia in particular – were usually made a week prior to travel, although the report noted that mobile platforms were popular late-minute travel bookings.

“Interestingly, the findings showed that there is a clear correlation between the number of travelers per ticket and the platform used for booking,” Cleartrip said. The report consolidated proprietary information from Cleartrip as well as data from the company’s more than 400 partner airlines.

“We closely monitor the new and dominant trends in the market to inform our business and product decisions and the 2017 Travel Insights Report is a natural outcome of our intense focus on understanding and solving customers’ needs,” said Stuart Crighton, the founder and chief executive of Cleartrip, said in a statement.

Dubai was the top destination for travelers in the region last year, followed by Sharjah, Manila and Abu Dhabi. The Armenian capital Yerevan meanwhile was the most trending destination for 2017, with bookings posting a whopping 498 percent rise over the previous year, followed by Georgia’s Tbilisi and Nepal’s Kathmandu with both destinations recording twofold increases in online bookings.

Yerevan and Tbilisi have been heavily promoted as affordable travel and tourism alternatives and are extremely popular destinations particularly for individuals in the UAE who need to go on a visa run to renew their stay in the Emirate.

Over a quarter of trips taken last year had an average duration of six days while about 18 percent took 35 days or more, with the most preferred months for travel in August and July, which coincide with the summer holiday trips expatriates and residents in the region.


India cuts sales tax across sectors to ease pain of traders and consumers

Updated 11 min 18 sec ago
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India cuts sales tax across sectors to ease pain of traders and consumers

MUMBAI: India slashed the sales tax rate on over 50 products on Saturday in a move aimed at appealing to traders and the middle classes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government eyes next year’s elections.
Modi is seeking a second term in 2019 amid voter frustration over the abrupt implementation of a nationwide goods and services tax (GST) a year ago that has hit businesses and general public hard.
The GST council, headed by interim finance minister Piyush Goyal, agreed to lower the indirect tax slab on products such as paints, leather goods, bamboo flooring, stoves, televisions and washing machines from the highest rate of 28 percent to mostly 18 percent.
“The exercise was to ensure simplification and rationalization of GST and extend relief to the common man,” Goyal told a news conference in New Delhi on Saturday evening.
The tax rate on ethanol blended with petrol, footwear costing up to 1,000 rupees and fertilizer grade phosphoric acid has been cut to from 12 to 5 percent, Goyal said.
The council cut taxes on sanitary pads and fortified baby milk to zero, Goyal said.
In a boost to mobile phone manufacturing and electric vehicles, the tax rate on lithium ion batteries was cut from 28 percent to 18 percent.
“The decision taken today will increase compliance and the revenue impact on total tax collections will be marginal,” said Goyal.
The revised tax rates will be applicable from July 27.
Revenue collections from GST are a crucial pillar of government’s plan to cut its fiscal deficit in the current year. India’s GST collection for the fiscal 2017/18 was 98 percent of the budgeted target.
“The broad level reductions in rates could lead to lower tax collections,” said M S Mani, partner at consulting firm Deloitte India.
However, the tax cut will lead to higher sales which could offset revenue losses, Mani added.
($1 = 68.7300 Indian rupees)