It was only a few years ago that the growth in the global economy — and that of travel — was centred on the so-called BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
Each of these countries were emerging in the mid- to late-2000s, joining the worldwide marketplace of consumerism and trade. They eventually experienced varying degrees of success (and heartache, in the case of Brazil) and are now seen as considerable players on a global scale.
But that period already seems a reasonably long time ago, with a new suite of countries being highlighted as the new BRICs and worthy of the travel industry's attention.
This second wave of countries includes Argentina, Pakistan, Vietnam, Turkey and Indonesia - all with sizeable populations (Indonesia and Pakistan, for example, have around 250 million and 180 million inhabitants respectively) and online penetration growing fast.
Yet it is the Middle East that seems to be exciting many in the travel industry, with its — again, as with India and China — growing middle class and, perhaps more importantly, huge investment in travel infrastructure.
Dubai, for example, has established itself not only as the home of outlandish buildings and free-spending global carrier Emirates, but also as a hugely important and strategically placed hub for global aviation.
As a result of the growth in the region (an area that includes the giants of Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as Oman, Jordan and Egypt), home-grown online travel brands such as FlyIn are finding themselves joined by those from elsewhere around the world.
These include South Africa-based TravelStart, HotelsCombined and Wego, all of which are seeing the region as a critical step in their plans for growth, as the global giants focus their concentration on existing go-ahead regions such as Asia-Pacific.
Wego, for example, says it believes that it and a few others have managed to secure a "first-mover advantage" by creating dedicated websites and services for travellers in the Middle East.
General manager for the company in the Middle East and North Africa, Mamoun Hmedan, speaking at the WebInTravel conference in Singapore last week, says it has seen 700% growth since 2013 (albeit from a low base), driven at this stage by a trend towards travellers looking mostly for flights (65% vs hotels at 35%).
Central to the strategy in the Middle East for many external entrants is ensuring local currency and Arabic language provision are provided for in their digital offering, as well as a mobile-first operation and catering for some of the nuances in traveller behaviour.
For example, many travellers still value the time and service they get with a travel agent.
But there is a tangible shift to online-based search and booking, with money to be spent on trips further afield and beyond the traditional European and North American tourist hotspots (similar to the recent Booking.com note as to changing and maturing behaviour in Asia-Pacific).
How long those that have managed to gain a foothold in the region from their external headquarters will have the region to themselves is unclear. But it probably will not be very long.
Cleartrip, the Indian online travel agency, is known to be "doing well" in the Middle East, after a concerted effort to target the market, and has ambitions outside of its domestic market (not least because the MakeMyTrip-Ctrip powerhouse is hoping to vacuum up everything before it in India).
This is not to say that locally produced online travel brands cannot make their own mark in the region — far from it.
But the experience and established technology of the players from the outside seems to be in their favour, some argue.
Still, there could still be a mirroring of what happened in Asia-Pacific.
External brands may come in and try their hand at capturing significant market share, but find as the market matures that home-grown services make their own move and unseat the early-starters.
NB:Dubai skyline image via Pixabay.