There is huge potential for further growth in intra-regional travel within the Middle East, says Adel Ali, chief executive officer of the Sharjah-based low-cost airline Air Arabia.

Speaking at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai, Ali said tourist behavior is changing in the region, generating demand for short-haul flights to regional destinations.

“More people are taking short trips or going away for the weekend,” he told delegates at AHIC in Dubai. “Aviation within the region has developed in an extremely positive way.”

In particular, he said that travel to and from Saudi Arabia has grown rapidly in the past three years with more flights operating to an increasing number of airports.

To further boost intra-regional travel, he said a GCC tourist visa that would allow freer travel between countries would be “a fantastic thing to develop”.