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HomeStatistics & TrendsSignificant Increase in Central Asian-GCC Travel Activity Highlighted by Aviasales at Phocuswright WiT Middle East 2024
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Significant Increase in Central Asian-GCC Travel Activity Highlighted by Aviasales at Phocuswright WiT Middle East 2024

Middle East

Central Asian travel to the GCC is booming, with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan leading the surge. New air routes, visa-free travel plans, and strong economic ties are fueling this growth, creating exciting opportunities for GCC tourism businesses.

Dubai – Aviasales, a metasearch travel platform, unveiled pivotal data at the Phocuswright WiT Middle East 2024 conference, showcasing a notable surge in travel between Central Asian states and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. This uptick underscores the burgeoning economic and cultural bonds between the regions, supported by strategic policy advancements and tourism growth initiatives.

In 2023, travel searches for Middle East and North African (MENA) destinations from Central Asian countries saw a 61% increase, while bookings rose by 45% year-on-year, according to Aviasales data. This data, compared to 2022 figures, highlights the growing interest and movement in the region.

Key statistics from Aviasales

Uzbekistan: Travel searches surged by 83%, with bookings increasing by 50%. Notably, 86% of this activity targeted the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Kazakhstan: Travel searches rose by 24%, with a 36% increase in bookings. An impressive 91% of these bookings were for the UAE.
Kyrgyzstan: Searches spiked by 146%, and bookings climbed by 72%, with 87% of travelers heading to the UAE.

Aviasales also emphasized that the forthcoming ‘Arab Schengen’ program will further enhance these interactions by allowing 30-day visa-free stays in Gulf countries. For instance, since February 2024, Uzbek citizens can visit the UAE without a visa, likely increasing travel frequency this year.

New air routes are also contributing to this growth. Jazeera Airways’ Al Kuwait-Fergana service and Qatar Airways’ expanded flights between Doha and Almaty are vital in strengthening business and tourism links.

On a diplomatic level, the GCC-Central Asia Dialogue has reaffirmed the commitment to revitalizing economic and investment ties, focusing on infrastructure, tourism, and energy. With the GCC expected to outperform global economic trends through diversification, the outlook for 2024 and beyond remains optimistic.

Anton Baitsur, CEO of Aviasales, stated, “These encouraging figures not only reflect a significant trend poised to continue but also highlight Aviasales’ critical role in Central Asia’s travel landscape. We strongly recommend that GCC-based hotels, airlines, tour operators, and incoming businesses develop services tailored to Central Asian audiences and focus their sales and marketing efforts on this source market.”


The data presented by Aviasales at the Phocuswright WiT Middle East 2024 conference clearly illustrates the strengthening travel connections between Central Asia and the GCC. With strategic policies, new air routes, and the upcoming ‘Arab Schengen’ program, the travel and tourism industry in these regions is set for substantial growth, benefiting businesses and economies alike.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.