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A RESEARCH TOOL which tracks travel trends quarterly has revealed that a sharp decline in air travel is expected, with many passengers switching to economy class. YouGovSiraj?s Travel Tracker result of answers from 844 travellers from the UAE who responded to the survey during January 2009. The amount of people flying from the UAE remained stable in 2008 compared to 2007 but this fell far short of the expected rise in travel.

In October 2008, around half of business and leisure travellers were expecting to see an increase in travel, today less than a quarter are. The global credit crisis has affected UAE resident?s attitudes towards how much they believe they will travel over the next year. UAE travellers are currently expecting to fly less in the future than they were three months ago. In October 2008, 10 per cent and 9 per cent of leisure and business travellers were expecting a decrease, now that figure has risen to 32 per cent and 33 per cent respectively. ?In just 3 months attitudes have shifted dramatically. What we are seeing is that travellers haven?t yet changed their travel behaviour but they are starting to panic about the future," said Jane Wilson, director of travel and tourism research at YouGovSiraj. "With increased nervousness about job security people now believe they will travel much less.

The fact remains that people are still flying but airlines need to work harder to encourage them onto their planes. Research like this is required more than ever to help travel companies survive in this time of crisis." Economy, traditionally the main choice of class for both business and leisure travellers, is expected to be used even more. 12 per cent more business travellers are expecting to fly economy than in October 2008. 7 per cent more of leisure travellers will shift to economy class. Three months ago, the majority of business travellers were expecting to see an increase in budgets over the next year.

Now that attitude has almost reversed with 42 per cent expecting to see a decrease. In order to keep costs down, UAE residents plan to spend their next holiday closer to their country of residence. This means there may be an increase in travel in the region. This finding comes from another of YouGovSiraj syndicated research tools, ?Reality Check ? UAE?, a survey amongst 725 consumers in December 2008. The survey also reveals that UAE residents believe the economic situation will improve but are bracing themselves for the long-haul. Asked how the situation will change, 67 per cent of respondents believe it will take two years or more for improvements to be felt.