Whether in the Middle East or any other part of the world, most tourist destinations worldwide are affected by tourism seasonality. The term tourism seasonality as per UNWTO’s definition is the temporal variation in tourist activities and visitation patterns within a particular destination over a given period. This phenomenon occurs as a result of different factors which are generally classified into four categories: natural, cultural, institutional and economic. The fluctuations resulting from these factors can create a range of challenges for destinations during both peak- and off-seasons. To overcome these challenges, mitigate their negative impacts and maximise the potential benefits of the low season, robust strategic planning and initiatives must be implemented.
Colliers’ market report titled ‘Seasonality Mitigation: Causes, initiatives & tactics to alleviate tourism seasonality in the Middle East’ provides a detailed analysis of the distinct seasonal trends observed in the Middle East and introduces innovative tactics to address these fluctuations. Considering the significant influence of high temperatures on tourism in Middle Eastern destinations, this report highlights climate, particularly temperature, and other natural factors that steer seasonal fluctuations.
The report explores six innovative strategies to improve the understanding and management of seasonal fluctuations in the region’s tourism industry. The first of these is broadening destinations’ offerings by providing different forms of tourism targeting niche tourist segments that are less concerned about off-season conditions and value experience over weather, such as adventure tourists, wellness tourists or cultural tourists. To further emphasise this approach, the second strategy involves creating customised product mixes to stimulate demand, depending on the target segment, the destination and the resources at hand.
Other strategies include designing infrastructure that handles extreme conditions to ensure tourists are comfortable despite high temperatures, promoting event schedules and implementing targeted promotional campaigns during off-seasons, and forming strategic partnerships with other destinations that offer either different seasonal patterns or similar ones to reduce the negative impacts and capitalise on the benefits of tourism seasonality.
During low seasons, tourist destinations witness decreased visitation, leading to reduced revenue and economic activity. In the case of Middle Eastern destinations, the influence of high temperatures is quite substantial. Assessing the situation in Saudi Arabia for example, it’s evident that when we exclude outliers like Eid Al Fitr, Hajj, and Eid Al Adha, the influence of weather becomes strikingly apparent. There is a noticeable negative correlation of -0.85 between Riyadh’s average monthly temperature and the monthly tourist influx. To combat these challenges, it is crucial to implement innovative tactics that enable such tourist destinations to flourish all-year-round.