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UAE flights: Tourist visa applications, ticket demand quadruple

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai
dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com Filed on August 29, 2021
AFP

Though bookings are not yet finalised, airfares have soared, especially for UAE flights from India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.


The demand for visit visas and UAE flight tickets has quadrupled a day after the country announced that it is opening its doors to tourists from all nations starting today.

Important: Covid-vaccinated passengers with tourist visas can now travel to the emirates

Airline officials and travel agents, however, are still waiting for the final standard operating procedures from civil aviation authorities before they can start taking in visit visa holders, particularly those from where travel was restricted, like India and Pakistan. A senior official of India’s national carrier Air India also confirmed these reports to Khaleej Times.

Must know: India extends international flight ban until September 30

Though bookings are not yet finalised, airfares have soared, especially for UAE flights from India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) on Saturday announced that tourist visa applications are now open to travellers from all countries, provided that they have completed their doses of a Covid vaccine approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

UAE resumes tourist visas: 6 things you need to know

The NCEMA said passengers holding tourist visas must take the mandatory rapid PCR tests at the airport upon arrival, and the previous rules for those unvaccinated (from restricted countries) remain in place.

Afi Ahmed, managing director of Smart Travels, said: “We are still awaiting clarity on the protocols from the airlines. That being said, I am certain that inbound tourist visa holders can travel into the country from September 1.

“We are inundated with calls from people wishing to travel. On Sunday, we received 300 to 400 enquiries, however, we are not booking as many tickets as we don’t have confirmation from airlines.”

Ahmed added that parents with unvaccinated children are also enquiring if their kids can travel.

“On the visa front, we have received 200-plus applications. One-way ticket prices from India to the UAE are now at Dh700-Dh900. Once we are closer to September 1, I think the prices will go up to Dh900 to Dh2,000 at least,” he said.

Google travel trends on Sunday showed higher-than-usual prices for UAE flights from India and Pakistan. “This is where the largest demand is from as well,” said Raheesh Babu, group chief operating officer of online travel agency Musafir.com.

Babu said they had been encountering several queries from passengers who have long been waiting for the chance to fly into the UAE.

“There are some who have taken the Sputnik vaccine. Sputnik is not a WHO-approved vaccine, but it has been approved by the UAE.

Unvaccinated passengers taking the third-country quarantine route are also asking if they can travel,” he said.

Entry permit holders and individuals with expired residence visas — issued by Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates — are still appealing for permission to travel.

Kumar Pankaj, an entry permit holder awaiting to join his new place of employment in Dubai, said: “I fear I am going to lose the job opportunity I have at the moment. I need to travel as soon as possible and I’m now considering taking a visit visa and travelling.”

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

author

Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for over ten years. For Khaleej Times, she covers NRI affairs, civil aviation, and immigration issues among other things. She completed her BA in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008 and is currently pursuing her MA in Leadership and Innovation in Contemporary Media at the American University in Dubai. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves food, and is mom to an over-enthusiastic Labrador retriever. Tweet at her @shootsprintrite.





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