Airport lounge visits in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are on the up signalling the recovery of the region’s tourism sector.

Data from Priority Pass, the airport experiences programme operated by Collinson, found average visits per lounge increased 34 per cent for H1 of 2021, compared to H2 2020 – which is in line with previous data revealing that 48 per cent of Priority Pass members are more likely to use airport lounges as compared to before the pandemic.

Furthermore, another survey found 85 per cent of UAE and KSA travellers in wanted access to socially distanced spaces at airports where they could ‘de-stress’ and ‘relax away from the crowds’.

The region’s travel and tourism sector is clear in other supporting data with Dubai International Airport (DXB) projecting a strong H2 performance after reporting 10.6 million passengers in the first six months of 2021. As of early August, DXB was serving 68 per cent of the destinations in 94 per cent of the countries on 70 per cent of the airlines when compared to data pre-pandemic.

Among the reasons for optimism is the country’s removal from the UK’s ‘Red list’ to ‘Amber’, the resumption of incoming flights from India, and the decision to resume issuing tourist visas to vaccinated travellers from all countries.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia has started to permit fully vaccinated tourist visa holders to enter without the need for an institutional quarantine period. Flights to South Africa, Argentina, and the UAE, a travel market with huge inbound significance to KSA, have resumed.

From a global perspective, 75 per cent of Priority Pass lounges are now open business and total lounge visits across the Priority Pass network were up 46 per cent in the first half of 2021 from the second half of 2020.

The lounges are well-positioned along the most travelled international flight routes based on data from global travel data provider, OAG, with 91 per cent of the top 100 busiest airports and 79 per cent of the 100 most active terminals globally featuring a Priority Pass lounge and airport experience.