UAE 3-day weekend: Travel demand peaks as more destinations open up

KT file photo
KT file photo

Dubai - Demand for travel strong for the upcoming three-day break next week, industry executives say


Waheed Abbas

Published: Fri 15 Oct 2021, 9:19 AM

Last updated: Fri 15 Oct 2021, 9:29 AM

UAE residents are increasingly looking to go abroad for their holidays amidst growing confidence for travel while concern about the Covid-10 pandemic wane, thanks to increased vaccination, decrease in the number of new coronavirus cases and opening up of a number of destinations for tourists from the UAE.

Travel and tourism industry executives say that demand for vacations is strong for the upcoming three-day break next week as well as for the four-day break on the eve of the UAE Commemoration Day and the National Day.

Mir Wasim Raja, manager, MICE and holidays, Galadari International Travel Services, says there is a good demand for the upcoming Diwali in November as well as a three-day break on October 21 to mark Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) birthday

“There is a good demand for vacations. For Diwali, many residents are taking leave and planning to travel for three-four days. They are mainly looking at Georgia, Armenia, Serbia and other countries for vacations. We have a good number of inquiries from UAE residents planning to take a leisure trip during the National Day holidays,” he said.

Many countries have opened up their borders for vaccinated visitors of late. Since the UAE leads the world in terms of vaccination, most of the countries are now welcoming tourists from the UAE, including the US, Asian, European and African countries.

Though European destinations are open for UAE residents for tourism, however, Raja said getting a visa appointment is a challenge.

As the demand for leisure travel grows in the UAE, all the local carriers Emirates, Etihad Airways, flydubai and Air Arabia have been announcing special packages for tourists from the UAE. Reflecting increased passenger traffic, Emirates, Etihad and Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports have issued a peak travel advisory. Emirates expects over 190,000 passengers will travel through Terminal 3 at Dubai International airport this weekend.

A survey conducted by mobile satellite communications firm Inmarsat revealed that passengers in the UAE are amongst the most confident in the world to fly again. In fact, only those from China were more likely to have taken a short or long haul flight since the onset of Covid-19, with 79 per cent having done so, compared to the UAE’s 75 per cent.

When asked about key concerns surrounding imminent air travel, UAE passengers were aligned with global response rates. Nearly half – 49 per cent – said quarantining and 43 per cent cited catching the virus.

Interestingly, 49 per cent of those surveyed in the UAE consider public toilets to be a higher Covid-19 risk than getting infected in a flight, followed by public transport (36 per cent) and sporting events (30 per cent).

Around 41 per cent of UAE passengers believe a Covid-19 vaccine passport should be implemented, with 40 per cent saying they should be implemented when everyone has been given access to the vaccine.

Around 56 per cent of UAE passengers said they had travelled to international destinations, and expressed that their overall confidence in air travel had not waned. Around 42 per cent are confident about taking their next flight within six months.

Mamoun Hmedan, managing director for Mena and India at travel and hotel booking website Wego, said international travel is still far from the pre-Covid levels. However, it is recovering at a faster pace in comparison to the initial anticipations.

“Today, travel is slightly above 50 per cent of pre-Covid levels and is expected to reach over 60 per cent growth by the end of this year. In 2021, people are more eager to travel than the previous year, making up for the lost time,” he said, adding that there are a lot of people who haven’t had a proper vacation for over a year since Covid lockdowns began.

“This has resulted in a lot of pent-up demand for leisure travel experiences and if you’re making up for a lost time, you’re way more likely to spare no expense. As a result, we have been seeing an increased demand on flight searches and hotel stays this year.”

He pointed out easy-visa or free-visa destinations for most of the UAE and Mena travellers, such as Montenegro, Azerbaijan, Georgia to name a few, are becoming some of the top-searched and top-booked destinations in 2021.”

According to Wego data, the five fastest European growth markets are France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Netherlands.

Mir Wasim Raja hoped that travel will reach pre-Covid-19 late next year or early 2023. “Right now momentum for tourism among residents is very positive. We hope the market will reach pre-Covid level next year.”

He pointed out that the UAE families who are accompanied by senior citizens are pretty conscious about their health. “Confidence has substantially picked up but yet to reach pre-pandemic level.”

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