East beckoning Arab holidayers

DUBAI — A visit to the picturesque locales of Europe might be a dream for many, but for UAE nationals, it is the East which captures their fancy and imagination. With the vacation season knocking at the doors, most of the local Arabs are already booked on trips to Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.

By Criselda E Diala And Joy Sengupta

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Published: Sat 21 Apr 2007, 8:39 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:43 AM

The local travel agencies are of the view that UAE nationals are more inclined towards the East than any other part of the world, reason being favourable climatic conditions and low cost.

The officials stated that more than 70 per cent people calling them everyday either ask for details and packages for Australia, Malaysia or even both. As far as the expatriates are concerned, most of them prefer to go to their hometowns.

But it has been also observed that some of them take shorter breaks of two to three days, mostly to European destinations like Switzerland, United Kingdom and France.

Aamir Shah, Manager for Holidays Department of London Travel and Tourism said, “Australia is seen as a perfect family destination by UAE nationals because besides having favourable climate and various activities, it is very affordable with the cost of living being three times less than in European countries. This fact holds great benefit for the locals who often take their summer breaks from 20 days to more than one month in order to escape the scorching Dubai summer heat.”

“The country ‘Down Under’ encourages a more family-oriented holiday experience as it provides accommodations that have complete kitchen facilities, enabling tourists to prepare their own meals,” he added.

Travelling in groups has always been the trend among UAE nationals, according to an industry source. With closely-knit family ties, locals often travel with their immediate and extended family members, sometimes even including their household helpers.

The same characteristic has also influenced their choice of summer holiday destinations that offer value-for-money experience like Australia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

With regard to the favourite holiday spot in the East, an executive of Al Rais Travels said, “The Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia is among the most-sought-after spots, followed by Melbourne and Adelaide. There are locals who have even booked a combination of Australia, Malaysia and Thailand. But then the real bookings will commence from April-end.”

According to industry sources, Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia have also been sought-after destinations because they not only feature versatile holiday activities like eco-tourism, shopping and entertainment, but also offer professional and affordable medical treatment.

Medical tourism has become a popular attraction in Southeast Asia with international tourists seeking treatment for various ailments like cancer and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Medical treatment costs in Southeast Asian countries are lower than in the United States, the United Kingdom and European countries. Even cosmetic surgery costs much less in Southeast Asia than in the West.

Aamir Shah also noted that there is an upcoming trend of young expatriates age 13 years and above to travel by themselves in a group.

“This is a good sign because they feel their independence and they become adventurous.

They also get to experience mingling with people of the same age group from different cultures, particularly when they live in hostels like the ones recommended by the Worldwide Youth Hostel Association,” he said.

Shah disclosed that youngsters often go to countries in Eastern Europe like the Czech Republic and Hungary which are known for their rich history and culture. They also prefer destinations like Casablanca, Morocco which is quite affordable.

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