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.


Sri Lanka calls for global coalition to tackle rising dollar

Updated 23 October 2018
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Sri Lanka calls for global coalition to tackle rising dollar

  • The island’s currency bottomed out at a record-low 174.12 rupees to the dollar
  • The rupee has shed more than 12 percent of its value this year and Sri Lanka fears it could slide further

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Tuesday called for a “coalition of the willing” to help stabilize free-falling emerging market currencies around the globe, as the beleaguered rupee slumped to fresh lows.
The island’s currency bottomed out at a record-low 174.12 rupees to the dollar, resisting a slew of measures by policymakers to arrest its steady decline.
The rupee has shed more than 12 percent of its value this year and Sri Lanka fears it could slide further as US sanctions squeeze Iran, the island’s chief source of oil.
A stronger dollar has made it difficult for emerging markets to repay debts and battered global currencies from Turkey to India and Argentina.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera invited those nations experiencing currency crises to visit Colombo and hash out a strategy.
“The rise of the dollar is having a serious impact on our currencies. We are not the only one affected,” he told reporters in the Sri Lankan capital.
“I want to build a coalition of the willing to deal with this problem. I don’t see the global situation improving any time soon.”
Washington pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in May and has been reimposing punishing sanctions on the Islamic republic, targeting in particular its financial system.
Iran not only supplies Sri Lanka with most of its oil, but is one of its chief buyers of the island’s celebrated tea.
Samaraweera has warned that blockading Iran will have ripple on effects on Sri Lanka, which has been unable to stop the rupee from nose diving.
Last month, Colombo curbed its state institutions and public servants from importing cars to reduce the outflow of foreign capital.
Banks were also ordered to restrict lending for purchasing overseas and consumer goods, but the rupee has continued its decline.
In August, the government substantially increased taxes on small cars to discourage imports, but officials said there was still pressure on foreign exchange reserves to finance big-ticket imports.