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Residents explore ‘safe’ destinations

sandhya@khaleejtimes.com Filed on December 17, 2020
Positive news around vaccines and opening of destinations like Maldives and UK for UAE residents has significantly improved the sentiments towards travel.

82 per cent of respondents in MEA would consider international trips once restrictions are lifted.

Which destinations follow safety rules and would be safe to travel to currently? This is the most common question travel agencies are facing, as winter holidays set in.

Due to the pandemic, all 2020 travel plans were ruined or came to a standstill for everybody. But, with 2021 approaching, people want to stop thinking about the pandemic and travel stress-free.

Hemali Shah, managing director of City One Tourism and Travel, said: “I am getting a lot of enquiries as to which destinations follow safety rules and would be safe to travel to. Places to visit within the UAE would be RAK, and places open to travel to from the UAE would be the Maldives, Serbia, Kenya, and Turkey. Though travellers are waiting for 2021 for higher safety measures, and since rules change constantly, it would be advisable to consult with us to keep you updated with the new rules.”

A latest Amadeus research explores the leisure traveller’s mindset towards planning and purchasing upcoming travel amidst the realities of Covid-19. To do this, Amadeus got the opinions of more than 8,500 CheckMyTrip users from around the world through a quantitative and qualitative survey in the eBook ‘Destination X: Where to Next - What Leisure Travellers Want in a Covid-19 World’, showing consumers have a healthy appetite for travel despite the ongoing challenges and unknowns that still lie ahead.

Nearly three-quarters say that they want to travel within the first three months of restrictions being lifted. The challenge travellers face is more about when, where, and how they can best venture out. For example, nearly 82 per cent of respondents in MEA say they would consider international trips once restrictions are lifted, but only 55 per cent say they expect to have the same or more budget for leisure travel as they did before. From how far, to how long, to how often — travellers are clear about what they are willing to consider to start travelling again.

Manvendra Naha Roy, head of online supply at HolidayME, said: ”Positive news around vaccines and opening of destinations like Maldives and UK for UAE residents has significantly improved the sentiments towards travel. Cautious optimism still prevails and the pent-up demand signals a speedy recovery sooner than later.”

Travellers’ appetite for flying, staying at hotels, and traveling by train and rental car remain overwhelmingly strong. Yet, nearly 84 per cent of travellers surveyed in the MEA region say information on Covid-19 prevention measures are “very important” to know up front before they book a hotel, with 75 per cent saying the same for air travel. Price continues to play a role in decision-making, but other Covid-19 related factors now weigh in as travelers take their time to fully evaluate both their destination and transit options. Customization and personalisation are key cornerstones of the trip.

Travel insurance grows in prominence with young and old. At least one-third of all respondents say that they are seeking more travel insurance coverage than before Covid-19. Specifically, 79 per cent of those surveyed globally see insurance as a necessity when travelling internationally. Flexibility to make changes or collect refunds are just one part of the leisure traveler’s overall insurance cost benefit equation.

Travellers now place a higher premium on problem solving and support, especially for longer journeys. 70 per cent of all those surveyed were open to custom travel experiences, either advised by travel agents or designed themselves. With an array of uncertainties still unfolding, Amadeus sees the potential for travel sellers to play a bigger role in helping consumers successfully navigate their options throughout all phases of their trip experience to strengthen confidence.

Ernesto Sanchez Beaumont, managing director of Amadeus Gulf, said: “Millions of travellers are out there dreaming of their next adventure. They need the travel industry to share what measures are being taken to help keep travelers safe. Enabling travelers to successfully navigate the many variables, such as changing border restrictions, airline and hotel capacity adjustments, and other operational twists and turns, will go a long way to get people travelling again.”

Healthy traveller appetites now can only lead to strong business demand ahead. Seizing this opportunity requires a willing entrepreneurial spirit to change from top to tail. According to Beaumont, travel agents in particular must rethink travel and unlock new niches and spot creative opportunities to service travelers today and in the future.

— sandhya@khaleejtimes.com

author

Sandhya D'Mello

Journalist. Period. My interests are Economics, Finance and Information Technology. Prior to joining Khaleej Times, I have worked with some leading publications in India, including the Economic Times.





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