Four of the top five biggest spenders while travelling hail from emerging markets, with South Africans featuring in fifth place with an average spend of $2 888 (R28 889).

This is according to Visa’s latest Global Travel Intentions Study 2013 which has Saudi Arabia leading the global pool of countries with the highest average spend per trip of $6 666 (66 660) while Australian (US$4 118 / R41 180) and Chinese travellers (US$3 824 / R38 240) were not far behind. Brazil ranked fourth amongst the big five spenders.

The study surveyed 12 631 travellers from 25 countries across the globe. While the research shows that travellers from Africa and the Middle East have trimmed their travel budgets, their appetite for travel remains healthy – 76% travelled in the past two years, and 76% of these trips were for leisure.

Mandy Lamb, acting GM for Visa sub-Saharan Africa says: “Despite the climate of economic uncertainty and the relatively weak global economy, the Visa Global Travel Intentions Study 2013 hints at a change in both the financial landscape and consumer mind set, suggesting either economic recovery or a growing appetite for travel globally. In Africa and the Middle East, however, travellers’ budgets decreased from an average of $3 267 (R32 670) to $2 501 (R25 010).”

Interestingly, African and Middle East travellers prefer to make shorter trips to nearby places and they stay longer than their counterparts from other parts of the world. They spend on average 15 nights at a destination and 32% reported to have stayed at four star hotels or above. In addition, 44% of travellers from this region spend time with family and friends, 14% explore culture and heritage and 17% travel for a specific event. The top three destinations among these travellers include Egypt, Turkey, France and the United Arab Emirates.

With budget no longer a key concern behind travellers’ holiday destination, but rather the desire to explore new horizons; the uncharted territories of East Africa are increasingly drawing the attention of future global travellers. Safari is among the top three activities respondents are likely to consider while visiting East Africa. Sixty-six percent of respondents who are willing to visit Kenya are interested in Safari, followed by 51% in Tanzania and only 40% of respondents will consider a Safari tour while visiting Rwanda.

The results of the Study paint a picture of today’s global traveller. They are seasoned travellers, with 79% travelling in the past two years, taking 1-2 trips per year. Eighty percent plan their holidays in advance, taking an average of 10 weeks to organise the trip. Spending time with family and friends was cited as the most popular (38%) reason for a holiday. These trips are more likely to be organised independently (42%) and will last an average of 10 nights. They choose hotels of four stars and above (39%) with 69% choosing to take a trip with family members.

“We recognise the enormous potential for this industry to promote economic growth in both developed and emerging economies alike,” says Lamb. “The Global Travel Intentions Study, which has been running since 2006, is our contribution to increasing the collective level of information the industry can use to make intelligent decisions to benefit the traveller and the industry at large. Visa is committed to using the results to identify changes and developments to better understand the travel and tourism environment.”