Launching at The Arabian Travel Market on April 30, the full report to be published on 1st May on the website of Conde Nast Traveller Middle East. ‘Luxury Travel & Retail – What Does the Future Hold for The GCC?’ delves into the market forces affecting the inflow of tourism to the GCC and the changing demographics, preferences and desires of these visitors.

Key themes explored include the habits and demands of today’s evolving traveller, the aspirations of these luxury consumers, adaptation to create a positive tourism environment and what the future holds for both the luxury and hospitality landscape.

Commissioned by the Chalhoub Group, the paper draws on the expertise of pioneers and thought leaders within the GCC, global research and bespoke insight from the Condé Nast Traveller Middle East team to best understand what the expanding affluent travel space means for high-end retailers and travel service providers.

“The tourist is a captive audience for retailers since part of travel involves the discovery of new areas, engaging with the surroundings at leisure and possibly making a purchase. As luxury retailers we are already offering curated unparalleled services and experiences for our region and aim to provide the same for visitors,” said Patrick Chalhoub, CEO Chalhoub Group

Topics explored in the highly informative discussion include:

  • How to create positive and inviting tourism environments
  • The role of government enterprise in the expansion of tourism
  • The introduction of events to increase regional footfall
  • The growth of theme parks to form a new tourism sector
  • Creating culturally connected and historic sites that attract travellers
  • Establishing how sustainable product alternatives can create an eco-conscious niche

In addition, the research highlights trends in religious travel, cruise tourism and how existing luxury properties are responding to and simultaneously creating growth across the tourism and retail sector.

“When we talk about luxury and retail, people want retail to be an experience that’s part of the destination – they want to discover themselves as well as discover new places and products. They’re less interested in purely collecting goods with large price tags and are more experience led,” said Candice D’Cruz, Vice President of Luxury Brand Marketing and Management, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International.

Looking to the future, the paper covers how the combination of increased footfall, a new generation of traveller plus the expenditure of income across both groups has the potential to result in strong economic growth across the GCC. The paper also makes recommendations to brands on how to successfully cater to an ever-expanding premium market.

“Put plainly, tourism is good for business feeding into many other sectors – be they aviation, hospitality, retail, food and beverage, art, culture, entertainment or family-related businesses. It cannot be ignored if a country wants to continue to grow and be part of global dialogue. The recent and ongoing diversification of experiences and offerings in the GCC has had a huge impact on the region’s attractiveness as a tourist destination,” said Rhea Saran, Editor-in-Chief, Condé Nast Traveller Middle East.

“We are very excited about the collaboration especially as Chalhoub Group partners with and represents some of the world’s finest and most luxurious brands across beauty, fashion and homeware,” said Ravi Samani, Head of Creative Solutions, Condé Nast Traveller Middle East


  • Patrick Chalhoub, CEO, Chalhoub Group
  • Issam Abdul Rahim Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing
  • Mohammed Abdul Magied Seddiqi, CCO, Seddiqi Holding
  • Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free
  • Gerald Lawless, Former Chairman of World Travel and Tourism Council and Non-executive Director of Dubai Expo 2020
  • Candice D’Cruz, Vice President Luxury Brand Marketing and Management for Marriott International Middle East and Africa