UAE online travel agency Holidayme.com has raised $7 million in Series A funding from Silicon Valley-based Accel Partners, Saudi Arabia-based F&C Overseas Investment, and from Al Sanie Group, according to a statement released today. “We have made significant progress and are currently at a very important stage in terms of growth and expansion,” said Geet Bhalla, cofounder and CEO of Holidayme. “The funding will be used to further scale up our technology, accelerate customer growth, make key strategic hires and expand regionally.”
Heightened investment in travel tech is breathing life into a largely undisrupted market. For MENA travel startups, the investment is a good omen. The funding from Accel, whose investments include Dropbox and Spotify, shows international acknowledgement of a growing MENA travel market.
Holidayme marks Accel’s first entry into the Middle East, the statement noted. According to an International Air Transport Association (IATA) report, Middle East carriers in 2015 had the strongest annual traffic growth at 10.5 percent. The share of international traffic carried by Middle East airliners reached over 14 percent, higher than their North American counterparts at 13.4 percent, the report noted.
“The region has one of the highest per capita spend in holidays, and is need of a new age platform to meet their requirements. We are very excited to join HolidayMe in this journey towards fulfilling this gap and becoming the platform of choice for online holidays,” said Faisal Al Nassar from F&C Investment. Founded by Bhalla and Digvijay Pratap in 2014, HolidayMe enables travel seekers to design and book holiday packages, hotels, flights and tourist activities for global destinations.
In an interview with Wamda in July, Bhalla said his company acts as the airline’s marketing arm by generating more passenger traffic without falling into rate parity, while airlines offer him benefits and a value product that he moves on to his customers. The platform includes more than 400 holiday packages to over 200 destinations, and over 8,000 activities globally. Holidayme previously secured a funding of $4 million from Al Sanie Group in 2014.