Creating a travel experience that exceeds client expectations is deemed more crucial than the cost for travelers based in the UAE, as indicated by a recent survey. Travel advisors have also highlighted the escalating desire for 'exclusivity' among luxury travelers in the country and the wider region.

Matthew D. Upchurch, the chairman and CEO of Virtuoso, underscored the findings of a recent study conducted by his company in collaboration with YouGov. The study revealed that 55 percent of travelers, including those from the UAE, prioritize a 'customized travel experience' over the price. This percentage is notably higher for UAE-based travelers, with 61 percent expressing the same preference. In neighboring Saudi Arabia, 62 percent of travelers share this sentiment.

Upchurch emphasized, '35 percent of high-net worth travelers seek cultural experiences, 30 percent are in search of adventure, and 13 percent are interested in expedition travel.'

Referring to expectations, Upchurch stressed that the focus lies on 'value' rather than price. In the UAE, 61 percent of travelers prioritize value. Moreover, substantial numbers in Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil, and China also prioritize 'value' over price.

Additionally, he highlighted a growing inclination towards cultural enrichment and adventurous exploration. Upchurch stated, 'People are seeking stimulation and special experiences; they want to engage in cultural learning or participate in various activities, rather than being mere observers.'

Adventurous and affluent UAE travelers yearn for bespoke experiences that surpass conventional offerings, according to other industry experts. Rashida Zahid, VP - Operations at, noted, 'High-value UAE travelers crave extraordinary experiences beyond mainstream options. They are drawn to luxury resort stays and high-end hotels offering personalized services. These travelers also exhibit a keen interest in exploring niche destinations, delving into offbeat pathways to discover hidden gems, immersing themselves in diverse cultures, and indulging in wellness retreats.'

Vinayak Mahtani, CEO of bnbme holiday homes, added, 'We cater to a diverse range of travelers. However, the foremost visitors to the UAE anticipate an exceptional level of service surpassing that of any other destination. They make requests such as changing a bedroom into an office space, replacing mattresses for firmer ones, or even arranging private jet travel.'

Highlighting Dubai's tourism growth, Aida Mohammad Al Busaidy, Associate Vice President, Consumer Advocacy at the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), emphasized the city's blueprint for success as a leading tourist destination. She emphasized the importance of fostering innovative thinking, entrepreneurship, and sustainability, along with crafting unparalleled infrastructure. The concerted efforts have resulted in a substantial 11 percent increase in international overnight visitors to Dubai from January to March 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.

Moreover, Al Busaidy highlighted the UAE's recognition as the world's second safest city in 2023 by Numbeo, further enhancing its allure to visitors. She projected the country's tourism industry to contribute 12 percent to the gross domestic product in 2024, equivalent to Dh236 million, emphasizing the significant role of luxury and experiential travel in driving tourism performance.