Coronavirus Pandemic

UAE: Residents rush back before travel entry ban goes into effect on May 12

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on May 10, 2021

Travellers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal scramble to return in next two days.

UAE residents are shelving their plans to travel to Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka in light of an entry ban on travellers from the four South Asian countries announced by the UAE on Monday.

Meanwhile, those who have already travelled to the countries in question are attempting to advance their returns before the deadline.

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Travel industry executives said they started receiving calls from their clients about changing their bookings within hours of the announcement.

The UAE's suspension of entry for travellers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka will be effective from 11.59pm on Wednesday.

Bharat Aidasani, managing partner, Pluto Travels, said it is going to be a major challenge for the travel and aviation industry as more than 50 per cent of people come from these four countries coupled with India, which tops the list of expat origin countries in the UAE.

“We had a similar challenge with India as a lot of people cancelled their bookings because they were not sure when they could come back. Since India flight suspensions have also been extended a few times, residents are hesitant to travel. Now, people will travel only for emergency or medical reasons to these countries. They will reconsider their leisure or Eid Al Fitr holidays, which start from tomorrow,” said Aidasani.

Raja Mir Wasim, manager for MICE and holidays at International Travel Services (ITS), said clients have started asking to advance bookings of employees who are on vacation in their home country due to the latest announcement.

“We just got calls from clients who want to advance their employees' return. The employees have been asked to take a PCR test so that they can come tomorrow evening or the day after,” Wasim said.

He added that people planning to fly out would have to postpone their trips as they would not have confidence about returning on time.

“But we’ll have to see whether airlines increase seats on UAE-bound flights before Wednesday,” he added.

Airfares to skyrocket

Wasim cited the possibility of airfare hitting the roof. “People who were supposed to come back to the UAE at the end of May have now got only two days to enter the country. So, the next two weeks' load has shifted to two days. For instance, if 2,000 people are supposed to come back to the UAE in two weeks, now they will rush to get back in two days. That will drive up the airfares exponentially,” he added.


>> Pakistan-UAE flight suspension: Rebooking, refund options announced

Aidasani also predicted airfares to the UAE rising substantially, as demand would pick up over the coming two days.

“There are two options for people – either they advance or extend their return dates. Since there will be a lot of demand, airfares could shoot up more than 100 per cent. There are few seats available, and airfares may shoot up to Dh2,000,” he added.

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