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Boeing and Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) announced the national flag-carrier will grow its long-haul fleet up to 49 787 Dreamliners.Worldwide Tourist Trends Unearth the Power and Pitfalls of Familiarity.

In a groundbreaking study by YouGov, commissioned by the Saudi Tourism Authority, it has come to light that the globe’s travellers have a rather curious inclination – the overwhelming pull of familiarity. Released just ahead of this year’s anticipated World Tourism Day in Riyadh, the results of this research are a clarion call to both industry leaders and travellers.

They drew insights from over 17,500 participants spread across 15 diverse regions encompassing Asia, Africa, America, Europe, and the Middle East, with 66% preferred destinations imbued with a sense of the known. This fascinating draw towards well-trodden paths has inadvertently catalyzed over-tourism in select regions, while countless picturesque locales remain under the tourist radar.

Echoing this sentiment, Fahd Hamidaddin, the Saudi Tourism Authority luminary CEO, opined, “It’s enlightening to discern how pivotal a role familiarity plays in shaping global travel choices.” However, he quickly added, “Yet, true travel should be about unveiling the unknown, basking in the novelty of diverse cultures, and returning not just with souvenirs but with enriched perspectives.”

The study also underscored regional variances in these trends. For instance, while 90% of Middle Eastern tourists ranked familiarity as a cornerstone of their travel decisions, their counterparts in nations like Britain, France, China, and Japan showcased a more intrepid spirit.

This global proclivity has ramifications beyond mere numbers. Emerging travel destinations, bereft of massive international marketing budgets, grapple with breaking this cycle of familiarity. In contrast, iconic travel hotspots face the equally daunting challenge of dispersing the tourist footfall to their lesser-explored terrains.

Indeed, news reports in recent times have highlighted measures by nations like Croatia and France to manage the onslaught of tourists flocking to their renowned destinations. Dubrovnik’s “Respect the City” initiative and France’s strategic approaches to handling peak-season tourism influxes are prime examples.

The upside? Among those audacious enough to embark on unfamiliar journeys, an encouraging 83% professed a transformation in their worldview, underscoring travel’s unparalleled potential to foster global harmony and understanding.

This year’s World Tourism Day, to be hosted in Riyadh between the 27th and 28th of September is poised to be a confluence of thought leaders in tourism, examining the symbiotic relationship between tourism, environmental preservation, and global camaraderie. With the theme “Tourism and Green Investments”, the event promises to spotlight the quintessence of tourism and its pivotal role in sculpting a more interconnected and harmonious global society.

As nations grapple with balancing the allure of their famed locales with the untapped potential of their hidden gems, one thing is clear: the onus is as much on the global traveller as it is on industry leaders. In the words of Hamidaddin, “May we inspire more to seek the unknown, for in the heart of the unfamiliar lies the true essence of discovery.”




Written by: Madhura Katti