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Wego’s “Middle East Traveller Destination Leaderboard” Reveals Trending Destinations for Q1 2023 

Wego’s “Middle East Traveller Destination Leaderboard” Reveals Trending Destinations for Q1 2023 

Wego’s “Middle East Traveller Destination Leaderboard” Reveals Trending Destinations for Q1 2023  1
  • Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the top international travel destinations in MENA
  • Egypt has been the top MENA destination for each of the past six months and the annual leader since 2014
  • Biggest climbers among top 20 are Oman (+4 for the 12th spot) and Sudan (+5 for the 20th spot)
  • United Kingdom has been the top European destination for eight months in a row with Italy the biggest climber jumping from #8 to #3

Dubai, UAE – 01 May 2023: Wego, the largest online travel marketplace and the number 1 travel App for flight bookings and searches in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), today revealed its regular “Middle East Traveller Destination Leaderboard” that showcases the relative popularity of global destinations with Middle East travellers. Wego users search for tens of millions of trips each quarter and it’s this flight and hotel data that has been analysed to determine the relative destination rankings. The leaderboard announced today covers the first quarter of 2023.

Global Destination Trends

Egypt retains its #1 position as the top destination for international travel for MENA travellers in Q1 2023.

“We are excited to share our MENA destination report for this quarter. Our data shows that Egypt remains the top destination of choice for MENA travelers for what the country offers from a mix of history, culture, and adventure for every type of traveler. We also observe that the UK continues to rank as the top European destination out of the Middle East. At Wego, we are proud to connect travelers with the best of the countries, and we look forward to continuing to work with leading partners to promote their unique tourism offerings”, said Mamoun Hmedan, CCO and MD, MENA, and India, Wego.

Rounding up the top three is India. The country is a major source market for foreign talent and labor for the Gulf region and has consistently held the top spots for international air travel. Going as far back as 2014, Egypt has consistently been either #1 or #2 and India has invariably taken the #3 spot since 2016.

As is usually the case, we saw more movements in the bottom half of the top 10 with Kuwait overtaking Turkey for the 5th spot and Jordan moving up two spots to rank 8th overall. The lone rank change among top 5 is due to Turkey losing some of the bargain hunters travel that took place in 2022 with people looking to take advantage of the depreciating lira. As the currency situation became more stable, the country has been gradually sliding back to the sixth spot.

Biggest quarter on quarter riser in the top 50 is China (+6 spots for 26th place) as the country started reopening in Q1 of this year. At the same time, China is also the biggest loser versus pre-Covid days having lost 11 spots.  With further easing of travel largely expected, we project that China will be among the fastest risers in Q2 of this year as well and that it will likely break the top 20. 

Top 50 Destinations Globally for Middle East Travellers
Rank Q1’23CountryΔ vs Q4’22 RegionRank Q1’23CountryΔ vs Q4’22 Region
1Egypt0 MENA26China6 Asia Pacific
2Saudi Arabia0 MENA27France-5 Europe & CIS
3India0 India Sub28Iraq-1 MENA
4UAE0 MENA29Azerbaijan-6 Europe & CIS
5Kuwait1 MENA30Japan-2 Asia Pacific
6Turkey-1 MENA31Spain0 Europe & CIS
7Pakistan0 India Sub32Georgia-2 Europe & CIS
8Jordan2 MENA33Nepal1 India Sub
9Thailand0 Asia Pacific34Australia1 Asia Pacific
10Qatar-2 MENA35Iran3 MENA
11Morocco2 MENA36Russia-3 Europe & CIS
12Oman4 MENA37Netherlands-1 Europe & CIS
13United Kingdom-1 Europe & CIS38Sri Lanka-1 India Sub
14Indonesia-3 Asia Pacific39Singapore0 Asia Pacific
15United States0 Americas40Austria1 Europe & CIS
16Philippines-2 Asia Pacific41South Korea1 Asia Pacific
17Bahrain1 MENA42Algeria2 MENA
18Lebanon1 MENA43Maldives-3 India Sub
19Bangladesh-2 India Sub44Greece1 Europe & CIS
20Sudan5 Africa45Syria2 MENA
21Malaysia-1 Asia Pacific46Switzerland0 Europe & CIS
22Germany-1 Europe & CIS47Vietnam-4 Asia Pacific
23Italy1 Europe & CIS48Bosnia0 Europe & CIS
24Tunisia5 MENA49Ethiopia0 Africa
25Canada1 Americas50Kenya0 Africa

Destination trends vs pre-COVID

Compared to pre-COVID, several Asian countries lost positions as they faced stricter COVID policies. These are mostly countries in Asia such as China (-11 spots), Japan & Vietnam (each -9 spots), Philippines (-8 spots), Malaysia (-7 spots) and Indonesia & Singapore (each -4 spots).

On the other end were countries within GCC who had more accommodating social and travel policies during the pandemic and served by short, direct flights: Qatar & Oman each +8 spots, Bahrain +5 spots among others.

Top 50 Destinations Globally for Middle East Travellers
Rank Q1’23CountryΔ vs Q1’19 RegionRank Q1’23CountryΔ vs Q1’19 Region
1Egypt0 MENA26China-11 Asia Pacific
2Saudi Arabia1 MENA27France-1 Europe & CIS
3India-1 India Sub28Iraq4 MENA
4UAE0 MENA29Azerbaijan-6 Europe & CIS
5Kuwait1 MENA30Japan-9 Asia Pacific
6Turkey-1 MENA31Spain-1 Europe & CIS
7Pakistan0 India Sub32Georgia2 Europe & CIS
8Jordan1 MENA33Nepal12 India Sub
9Thailand2 Asia Pacific34Australia6 Asia Pacific
10Qatar8 MENA35Iran-10 MENA
11Morocco1 MENA36Russia10 Europe & CIS
12Oman8 MENA37Netherlands0 Europe & CIS
13United Kingdom3 Europe & CIS38Sri Lanka-5 India Sub
14Indonesia-4 Asia Pacific39Singapore-4 Asia Pacific
15United States-2 Americas40Austria7 Europe & CIS
16Philippines-8 Asia Pacific41South Korea-5 Asia Pacific
17Bahrain5 MENA42Algeria7 MENA
18Lebanon-1 MENA43Maldives1 India Sub
19Bangladesh8 India Sub44Greece-2 Europe & CIS
20Sudan4 Africa45Syria6 MENA
21Malaysia-7 Asia Pacific46Switzerland-3 Europe & CIS
22Germany-3 Europe & CIS47Vietnam-9 Asia Pacific
23Italy5 Europe & CIS48Bosnia-9 Europe & CIS
24Tunisia5 MENA49Ethiopia-1 Africa
25Canada6 Americas50Kenya13 Africa

Regional Rivalries

European Destinations

The UK has been and continues to be the dominant European destination out of the Middle East. In the past 15 months, the kingdom dropped the torch only once, being briefly overtaken by Georgia in July 2022.  We expect Georgia and Azerbaijan to challenge the UK once again during the Summer as Arabs look to replace the Gulf summer heat with a more moderate summer. Overall, the UK’s leadership is unlikely to be seriously challenged in 2023 as the country has continuously been the top European destination since 2014.

One dynamic change we have seen among European markets has been Italy which has steadily climbed up through the ranks from #8 spot in early 2022 to currently battling with Germany for the #2.

Middle East Destinations

Among the Middle East destinations, most countries kept their ranks during the second quarter of 2023. KSA and Egypt continue to dominate the top two spots with UAE firmly in third. 

Turkey and Pakistan have been moving in opposite directions. In 2022, the depreciating lira attracted bargain hunters to Turkey in masse. In recent months, as the lira has maintained a more stable exchange rate, travel interest in the country has somewhat cooled down. Complicating matters was the major earthquake that hit the country in February and the prolonged news cycle that made travelers delay or cancel travel plans to the country.

Pakistan on the other hand has been gaining ground in recent months helped by additional flights and fewer travel restrictions.

Asia Pacific Destinations

While most Asian destinations retained their relative positions among each other, the loss in popularity of Asia overall versus the rest of the world continues to be the most noteworthy artifact of the pandemic. As China and rest of Asia finally ease social and travel restrictions, we project that a lot of the Asian countries are going to bounce back and reclaim their 2019 positions.

Annual Trends (2014 – 2023)

Looking at a decade worth of travel data, we see regional travel destinations grow faster than long-haul.  Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and USA dropped out as top 10 destinations while Kuwait, Pakistan, and Jordan are now among the top 10 destinations for MENA travellers.  


*Please contact Wego, as per the details below, if you’d like to receive these updates regularly.

To download the infographics summarizing the top destinations, please use the below link:

About Wego

Wego provides award-winning travel search websites and top-ranked mobile apps for travellers living in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East regions. Wego harnesses powerful yet simple to use technology that automates the process of searching and comparing results from hundreds of airlines, hotel, and online travel agency websites.

Wego presents an unbiased comparison of all travel products and prices offered in the marketplace by merchants, both local and global, and enables shoppers to quickly find the best deal and place to book whether it is from an airline or hotel directly or with a third-party aggregator website.

Wego was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in Dubai and Singapore with regional operations in Bangalore، Jakarta, and Cairo.

Methodology notes: all stats are derived from Wego internal search data covering the period from 01-Jan-2014 to 31 March 2023 for customers based out of the Gulf region and Egypt. For country definitions, we have followed the United Nations’ list of sovereign states with the notable exception of UAE which is split into Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Data covers international trips only.

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Wego’s “Middle East Traveller Destination Leaderboard” Reveals Trending Destinations for
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