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Top Christmas destination, busiest airport named

The United States is set to be the favorite destination for international air travelers at Christmas, with Thailand coming a strong second, according to ForwardKeys, the travel intelligence company, w

The United States is set to be the favorite destination for international air travelers at Christmas, with Thailand coming a strong second, according to ForwardKeys, the travel intelligence company, which monitors future travel patterns by analysing 16 million reservation transactions each day.

Among the top ten destinations worldwide, the US currently has an 11.4 % share of people booked to arrive in the Christmas travel period between December 23rd and 26th, and staying at least one night.


Based on bookings as at December 12th, Thailand will have a 4.5% share of international arrivals; the UAE will be in third place with a 4.3% share, China will be 4th with a 4.1% share and India fifth with a 3.6% share.

Olivier Jager, CEO, ForwardKeys commented: “The USA is the largest travel market in the world so you would expect it to be a top destination for Christmas and in addition, our numbers capture Americans returning home for the festive season. Thailand, with lots on offer for visitors, from beautiful beaches to spectacular temples and an extremely tourist-friendly culture, is a particularly popular place to spend Christmas. The UAE will also do extremely well during this period owing to aggressive promotional activity by Dubai, encouraging travellers to take at least one overnight stay to enjoy the local attractions”.

The USA is also the no.1 source market, with 16.3% of all outbound travellers. It is also showing strong growth with booked departures over the Christmas period currently 7.9% ahead of last year. The UK, Germany, Canada and Australia make up the top five source markets and they too are showing good growth with bookings currently ahead by 10.5%, 8.8%,9.5% and 13.8% respectively.

When it comes to busiest international hub airports, the growth of the Gulf is the main story. Dubai and Doha, the home bases of Emirates and Qatar Airways, lead the field; they are the places international travellers, transiting between continents, change planes and both are set for double digit increases over the same period last year, with Dubai 14.4% ahead and Doha 13.4% ahead.

ForwardKeys also provides a unique glimpse of the busiest airport on the busiest day, Dubai on December 23rd. By analysing future arrivals, ForwardKeys reveals a detailed profile of who will be in the airport between 7.00 am – 8.00, the busiest hour.

Analysis of arrivals during this time slot indicates 37% will come from the UK, 8% from Spain and 7% from the Netherlands. The leading departures will be for the UK 26%, Spain 11% and Saudi Arabia 7%.