Demand for UAE visit visas surges as Covid, travel rules are eased

The next two months will be busy mainly due to mid-term school breaks and pent-up demand for Expo 2020 Dubai



by

Waheed Abbas

Published: Sun 27 Feb 2022, 3:14 PM

Last updated: Sun 27 Feb 2022, 4:17 PM

The UAE’s decision to ease Covid-related travel restrictions, such as abolishing the requirement of negative PCR test for vaccinated travellers, are giving a massive boost to the family travel sector as confidence is returning fast for both inbound and outbound travel.

Travel industry executives expect the next two months, especially March, to be busy for the sector, especially the UAE-Subcontinent routes, mainly due to mid-term school breaks and pent-up demand for Expo 2020 Dubai before it shuts its doors on March 31, 2022.

Starting February 26, the UAE’s National Authority for Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management (NCEMA) said UAE-bound vaccinated travellers are not required to present a PCR test ahead of their travels. Moreover, most destinations around the world have been easing Covid-19 protocols and now exempt vaccinated travellers from carrying PCR test results.

“We have started getting inquiries as school holidays have begun in India, and there are mid-term breaks here in the UAE also, so a lot of families are now travelling to their home countries. There has been a big increase in demand for visit visas also because people now want to bring their parents, family members, cousins and friends to the UAE,” says Avinash Adnani, managing director of Pluto Travels.

With Expo 2020 Dubai entering its last month in March, Adnani sees a massive rush, especially from the Subcontinent.

“Leisure travel has started picking up because families are not afraid now of getting stuck in a foreign country. People are confident because they’re vaccinated plus rules are liberalised. Earlier, the biggest concern among travellers was what if we get stuck abroad, but that worry has gone now, giving a really big boost to confidence now,” he added.

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Adnani noted that it’s becoming a standard pattern that countries now ask travellers to submit either vaccination certificates or PCR tests, making travelling much hassle-free.

“Those who are not vaccinated are required to submit 48 or 72 hours PCR test. This is becoming a standard practice across countries. We see a great rush for both inbound and outbound travel, and March will be a rocking month.”

Echoing Adnani’s views, Mir Wasim Raja, manager, MICE and holidays, Galadari International Travel Services, stated easing of travel restrictions is a big relief for families of four to five members. “Yes, we will see a lot of families travelling now. Earlier, the major concern was that if one family member is tested Covid positive, everybody had to quarantine, and that was a big hassle that had been eased off. Many people who were sceptical to travel with families will opt now for leisure holidays,” Raja said.

“Demand for visit visas is also improving and we are getting a lot of tourists who are coming for Expo 2020. We hope to see a good demand continuing in the last 30 days, especially from the Subcontinent.”

Citing an example of strong massive growth in travel demand, Avinash Adnani noted people applying for a visa to the US now get December appointment dates because of the rush. “We are almost sitting at the pre-Covid-19 time.”

He urged the Indian government to open up international flights, which will allow UAE airlines to increase frequency because demand is going up, but there is a shortage of supply, resulting in an increase in airfares for Indian travellers.

“Airfares have started going up because of limited supply and demand is fast increasing. Increased flights will help balance airfares,” he added.

-waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com


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