As the mercury started soaring, travel agents, hotels and airlines have started luring summer holiday seekers with a number of promotional schemes and packages. According to leading travel agents in Dubai, leisure holiday seekers are skipping ...

By Vm Sathish (Contributor)

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Published: Wed 9 Jun 2004, 10:47 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:47 AM

what they perceive as risky destinations, especially the US and UK. People continue to prefer South East Asian countries. 'These countries, especially Malaysia and Bangkok, are the most preferred travel destinations for both nationals and expatriates. Asian holiday packages are economical and offer good value for money. Instead of travelling to costly Europe or America people prefer Malaysia,' says Fathiya Khatb, leisure travel manager, Dnata.

According to her, the appreciation of Euro in recent times has made European travel packages expensive for big middle class families.

It may be recalled that the SARS scare and the South East Asian economic crisis coupled with the terrorist strike in Bali, Indonesia had adversely affected the tourism sector. However, the September 11 events and the ongoing war in Iraq have made the region one of the best available travel destinations for Arabs and expatriates. 'SARS scare is no more preventing people from travelling to South East Asia. For big families, its economical than going to costly European destinations,' Fathiya added. People prefer Far East and Australia. Many Airlines have come up with their own special schemes, especially journey break facility which allows people to cover many places simultaneously. With Dh5000, one can get a six nights' stay package to South East Asia,' says Mohan Muthanna, Leisure Supervisor Kanoo Travel.

According to Jalali, general manager of a leading travel agency Mauritius and Cyprus are two preferred destinations. 'Mauritius has been popular with holiday seekers with a very reasonable amount, people can visit Cyprus too. SARS is no more a problem in South East Asia.” He said people are skipping western destinations, especially US and to some extent the UK. 'I am sending 100 tourists to the UK. However, people from the UAE avoid travelling to the US due to strict security checks, visa rules and other hiccups. Thanks to strict implementation of thump impression norms and alleged harassment at US airports, people prefer not to travel to the USA,' he added. However, a hectic marketing campaign is on to woo back Middle East passengers, especially big Arab families, to the US and UK.

'If you are two adults travelling from Abu Dhabi between June 1 and August 31 2004 to any of our online destinations in the UK, Europe, USA and Canada we have a special family offer for you. Travel in Club World, World Traveller Plus or World Traveller and you can take up to two children with you for free. With such an incredible saving on your air tickets just think of all the extra treats you can buy this summer,' says a British Airline source. 'If you want to beat the heat and travel before 15 June we have a special price just for you. You can travel in World Traveller to the UK and selected European destinations from as little as Dh2000. If Canada and the USA are you preferred holiday destinations we have a special offer until 30 November 2004. You can travel in World Traveller to any of our on-line destinations from as little as Dh2, 999,' the source added.

According to Sridhar K of Thomas Cook, the appreciation of Euro has made European destinations dearer for big families. 'Europe has always been a preferred destination. Now there is a change in preference to the Scandinavian countries/Northern Europe. Australia and New Zealand, which had strict, visa rules last year due to the Iraq war, have eased visa norms. Now UAE nationals are getting visa to Australia and New Zealand,' Sridhar said.

Hotel chains too are offering special schemes to lure tourists. Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels and resorts across the Middle East and North Africa are offering special schemes for intra AGCC travel. 'Throughout the AGCC countries, and in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen, 31 Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn properties are combining to present great value 'Weekends' packages starting from as little as US$50 per night. To ensure that holidaymakers can stay longer for less, the 'Weekends' rates are now available seven days a week between May15 and September30,' said a spokesman. Added benefits include two children under 12 being able to share their parents' room free of charge, while full buffet breakfasts are complimentary for the whole family.

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