70% of UAE Outbound Travelers Say Digital Payments Integral to Secure and Rewarding Travel Experience 


  • Travelers believe digital payments can safeguard the travel experience, with 70% opting for digital wallets during trips
  • Most travelers (83%) used the same domestic card while traveling, owing to acceptance and lower fees
  • Top 3 countries for UAE travelers are India, Egypt and Saudi Arabia
  • Nearly 7 out of 10 UAE travelers expressed a keen interest in embracing sustainable travel options to combat environmental damage 

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 22 February 2024: UAE outbound travelers are increasingly safeguarding their travel experience through digital payments, with 70% opting for digital wallets during trips, according to the 2023 Global Travel Intentions Study by Visa (NYSE: V), a global leader in digital payments. The study also finds that intra-regional travel is popular among UAE travelers, followed by inter-regional trips to Asia Pacific and Europe. 

The Visa Global Travel Intentions Study, which highlights emerging trends in consumer behaviors and preferences for outbound cross-border travel, is based on a survey conducted among UAE residents between the age groups 18-55 who traveled overseas for leisure in the past year and intend to travel further this year. 

Salima Gutieva, Vice President and Country Manager for the UAE, Visa, said: “The latest Visa Global Travel Intentions Study reflects the UAE’s robust travel sector and a strong shift towards digital payments, signaling a surge in consumer confidence. UAE travelers increasingly seek to enhance their travel experience, which they can do by taking advantage of Visa’s privileges and discounted offers. We are dedicated to using these insights to meet the changing needs of global travelers with secure, convenient, and innovative payment solutions.”

UAE Outbound Travel Insights:

Travel Surges, Flexibility A Priority:

The Global Travel Intentions Study found a significant surge in travel activity, with no signs of slowing down, even amidst rising costs. As per the sample of UAE outbound travelers surveyed, India, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia are the top destinations for travel in the last 12 months. Despite 77% of UAE travelers noting increased travel expenses, only 3% would consider postponing or canceling their trips, indicating a robust and enduring enthusiasm for travel. Surveyed UAE outbound travelers took an average of two international trips for around 10 days in the last 12 months. Travelers prioritize trips for relaxation (58%), followed by the need to meet family and friends (42%), exploring something new (33%), and seeking adventures (33%).

Most surveyed travelers (61%) prefer independent travel over packaged tours as it provides greater flexibility and control over their travel arrangements in case of last-minute changes. The study also shows that 4 in 10 (40%) travelers are willing to pay a higher price to enjoy the flexibility of accommodating changes in their trip plans.

Travel Spending Patterns:

The findings of the Global Travel Intentions Study show families traveling with older kids are the biggest spenders (66%) at destinations among all the demographic profiles, while Gen Z travelers tend to spend most before the trip. During travel, the largest spending categories include fashion-related transactions, restaurants or cafes, and accommodation, which is supported by Visa data. The 2023 Global Travel Intentions Study highlights that digital wallets (70%) have become an integral aspect of spending, in addition to credit cards. While affluent travelers used digital wallets 16% more than the average traveler, 83% of surveyed residents habitually used the same card that they used for domestic expenses in UAE, while traveling. In addition, acceptance and lower fee are primary factors influencing the choice of card. 

Payment Concerns Pre-Trip:

Most travelers (85%) had payment concerns before their trip. Among the top fears were concerns about card acceptance (29%), the cost of currency conversion at the destination (26%) and ATM withdrawal costs (24%). While Gen Z was most worried about card fraud (62%), affluent travelers (68%) had cash-related concerns. 

Embracing Sustainable Travel Options:

About three-quarters of travelers (73%) are aware of eco-friendly travel, and nearly half of them (49%) actively sought out sustainable travel choices during their most recent trip. Sustainable accommodation (32%) and energy-efficient transport (27%) were top on their list of traveling sustainably. Yet, most (73%) struggle to access the information required to make sustainable travel choices. Providing more information on sustainable travel could drive more interest and adoption of sustainable options. 

Visa Integrates Benefits to Complement Travel Itinerary

Planning an itinerary can be quite a complex affair, where travelers are always on the lookout for the next best deal. Visa delivers autonomy to cardholders by providing them with a range of discounted choices for hotel offers, car rentals, travel insurance, and concierge services during the planning and booking phase, including Booking.com, Avis, Jumeirah hotels, and the Visa Luxury Hotel Collection.

In addition to many privileges during the day of travel including airport transfers, airport check-in and baggage transfer offers, meet and assist, airport lounges, and more, Visa enhances the travel experience with tickets to popular tourist attractions as well as emergency medical attention during their times of need. 

More importantly, travelers need to feel safe during their trip. While supporting digital payments to enhance the travel experience, Visa’s added security features support travelers in the event of card loss and fraudulent card misuse.

Download the full report: Visa Global Travel Intentions Study.

About the Study

The 2023 Global Travel Intentions Study conducted by Visa employed an online survey methodology administered from April to June 2023. A total of 1,101 respondents in the UAE were surveyed, comprising individuals aged 18 to 55+ who had undertaken leisure trips overseas within the past year and expressed intentions to continue doing so in the upcoming year. This diverse sample ensured representation across various age groups, providing a comprehensive understanding of traveler demographics and behaviors.

About Visa Inc.

Visa (NYSE: V) is a world leader in digital payments, facilitating transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions and government entities across more than 200 countries and territories. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, convenient, reliable and secure payments network, enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. We believe that economies that include everyone everywhere, uplift everyone everywhere and see access as foundational to the future of money movement. 

Learn more at About Visavisamiddleeast.com/blog and @Visamiddleeast.

Media Contact

asda’a bcw, Dubai, UAE
Shirin Zemmo
E-mail: [email protected] 
Tel: 971-4-450-7600