The evolution of travel

The evolution of travel

Travel has transformed into a whole new adventure, offering exciting options and connections beyond traditional hotels. With over 13 years of experience in hospitality, guest experience, innovation and operations, Imad Moussa, support ops innovation leader at Airbnb, explores the changing landscape of travel, where unconventional choices, personal connections and authentic experiences are redefining travelers’ journeys.

Unveiling unconventional choices
Hotels are no longer monopolizing the travel scene. We now have a colorful array of alternative accommodations to choose from. Imagine cozy cottages tucked away in picturesque landscapes or urban apartments filled with artistic charm. These unique options allow travelers to immerse themselves in the true essence of destinations, stepping away from the cookie-cutter experience.
Alternative accommodations, such as vacation rentals, guesthouses and boutique hotels, have gained popularity globally, including in the Middle East. Travelers are increasingly seeking unique and personalized experiences that go beyond traditional hotels. Following Covid-19, the travel sector is witnessing an evolution in consumer preferences, as many travelers have the flexibility to work from anywhere, and many are choosing short-term rentals. Globally, alternative accommodations captured the largest revenue share of over 30 percent in 2021 and are projected to expand at a CAGR of 16.5 percent from 2023 to 2030.

Embracing local connections
Within this changing landscape, ordinary people have become extraordinary hosts. They welcome travelers into their homes with genuine warmth and hospitality, sharing not just their space but also their stories and local insights. These hosts become guides, revealing hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path wonders that truly reflect the spirit of a place, fostering connections that go beyond just mere transactions.

Unveiling the cultural concepts
Traveling is no longer limited to checking off landmarks. It has become an opportunity to dive into diverse cultures. Through shared meals, conversations and chance encounters, travelers gain a deeper understanding of a destination’s heart and soul. The interactions with locals provide authentic experiences that breathe life into the traveler’s memories.
The Middle East is renowned for its rich cultural heritage. Travelers have the opportunity to immerse themselves in vibrant traditions, local customs and historical sites that showcase the region’s unique identity.

Diving into authentic experiences
Traveling is an ever-evolving landscape, human beings crave experiences that go beyond just the surface. Whether it’s learning traditional cooking techniques from local experts or embarking on guided adventures, these hands-on encounters enhance their travel stories. Each experience becomes a cherished memory, capturing the essence of a place and allowing us to actively contribute to the tapestry of our adventures.

The path to sustainable exploration
As we navigate this new era of travel, sustainability is at the forefront of travelers’ minds. There is a growing awareness and focus on sustainable travel practices in the Middle East. Many countries in the region are taking steps to promote eco-friendly initiatives, protect natural landscapes and support local communities. From sustainable tourism certifications to eco-lodges and conservation projects, efforts are being made to ensure the preservation of the region’s natural and cultural assets.
According to a study done by, 61 percent of travelers surveyed said that the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably. Sustainable tourism can provide a great experience that visitors will want to repeat and offers an estimated yearly market opportunity north of USD 250 billion in the Middle East alone.


Travel destinations stand on the bridge of an evolving landscape of travel. It is by embracing unconventional choices, forging personal connections and providing authentic experiences that they are able to unlock endless possibilities.

Imad Moussa,
support ops innovation leader
at Airbnb

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