Coronavirus Pandemic

UAE residents alert: How travelling has changed in the recent months

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on October 31, 2020 | Last updated on October 31, 2020 at 11.00 pm
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Dubai is dependent on tourism and they are willing to take that extra mile to proceed.

A global travel protocol with concrete action plans and enhanced coordination between private and government entities will instil confidence among people to travel more, according to travel and tourism experts.

A standardised travel protocol approved by all governments is the best solution to optimise sector-wide retrieval efforts, said Elie Tabchouri, head of public sector and Telco at Google Mena. "The difficulty in governments agreeing on this is that each government has its own sovereignty, so nobody can impose something they don't want. Another fact is that travel and tourism are more important to some nations than it is for others," he said.

"Dubai is dependent on tourism and they are willing to take that extra mile to proceed. It is a big challenge but I don't see private and public sector collaboration alone is sufficient. This needs to be government to government," added Tabchouri.

Tech to ease formalities

Technology has been instrumental in expediting processes for potential travellers, said Peter Brun, chief communications officer of VFS Global. "Our digital transformation project has been accelerated. We are doing more visas to the doorstep. We go to people's homes where they can do the applications and biometrics on devices. Our customers can also upload applications upfront before going to a visa application centre for biometrics.

"We have seen more governments saying yes to this and approve it. This was far more difficult prior to the pandemic and it is a positive swing we see. Governments are viewing these advantages and are collaborating more on this now," added Brun.

Hygiene-oriented travel enquiries

Hygiene-oriented enquiries is a major talking point while planning a trip, according to Tabchouri. "Pandemic will have a lasting effect on the way we travel from a hygiene and health perspective. Health and hygiene measures are going to be huge, going forward, not only related to coronavirus but even otherwise, in terms of keeping people safe during travel," he said.

Travel trends in the 'new normal'

Destination weddings are on the rise and is a "new-normal travel trend", says Neeraj Seth, director of marketing, communications and PR, Kandima Resort.

"We've been open for two months and already had nine weddings. This comes because at destination weddings there is more space for social distancing and it is more manageable. It is also an escape to a new place for a novel and authentic experience," he said.

Smaller groups travelling together is another trend, he added. "Bigger groups have now taken a backseat. People are travelling with their immediate families and not in extended groups. Trust is more within the family, where you have full control in terms of sharing things. Another trend is travellers choosing to travel without their kids. Couple travelling is on the surge," said Seth.

Leisure travel will return first before business-to-business (B2B) travel, foresighted Jaki Ellenby, executive director, marketing and events, Global Village. "The only sector that will perhaps not fully come back is B2B travel. I think exhibitions and trade shows will come back. But for meetings, I feel people have seen how easy it is to meet online and this may continue. People don't necessarily have to jump on a plane and hop across the world for a two-hour long meeting. It saves cost and time."

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