Holidays in UAE: Schengen visa delays prompt residents to pick staycations over European travel

Beach properties and resorts are preferred, followed by centrally located hotels which provide convenient access to malls and other key attractions in the city


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 11 Jun 2023, 6:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 27 Jun 2023, 7:12 PM

The expected visa delays for European countries are leading families in the UAE to postpone their travel plans and instead opt for booking staycations at local hotels, despite an increase in outbound travel this year.

According to travel experts, due to the lengthy delays in obtaining interview slots for Schengen visa applications, some residents are altering their holiday plans for the Eid Al Adha break. UAE residents are to get four days off to mark the Islamic festival, and the break will extend to a six-day weekend.

Thomas Kurian, Hotel Manager, Leva Hotels, said, "Public holidays, when combined with long weekends, always facilitate positive hotel occupancy. Demand for staycations increases during these long holidays, and we expect similar trends in the upcoming Eid Al Adha holiday. While outbound travel was on the rise this year, the visa delays to European countries are likely to drive people to push their travel plans for later in the year and encourage them to book for a staycation in local hotels."

He added, "Beach properties and resorts located in the northern emirates will be a preferred choice for staycations followed by centrally located hotels which provide convenient access to malls and other key attractions in the city."

Experts from the hospitality industry underline they are also "anticipating increased booking from visitors from neighbouring GCC countries," who prefer strategically located hotels, making commuting easier and more convenient.

"We expect to see a higher demand for one or two-night stays from residents residing in other emirates. Based on the prevailing trend, we anticipate bookings will pick up closer to the dates of the celebrations. This pattern aligns with the general behaviour observed in the hospitality industry during festive seasons. Overall, we remain optimistic about the potential for increased bookings and engagement during Eid," adds Kurian.

Rise in outbound flight prices

According to travel experts, affordability and proximity to the emirate are other criteria.

During the summer, many UAE residents return to their home countries – the Indian subcontinent, Europe, the USA, and the UK. They say this trend is primarily due to the school holidays, as families travel to spend time with loved ones.

Raheesh Babu, COO,, said, "We have observed a significant surge in staycation bookings during the Eid period. This increase can be attributed to multiple factors, including the rise in outbound flight prices, delays in visa appointments, and a notable number of individuals choosing to spend the holiday in their hometowns due to school vacations. As a result, many people are opting for local staycations as their preferred choice this time.

While obtaining a visa to Europe remains a contributing factor, it is important to note that Eid's overall holiday package cost has escalated primarily due to the increased flight prices."

They say the UAE provides a captivating fusion of entertainment, tranquillity, and discovery, catering to a wide range of preferences.

"Prominent destinations such as Yas Island, Palm, and Ras Al Khaimah are renowned for the diverse array of activities available in their vicinity. Furthermore, visitors have the opportunity to complement their hotel stay with exciting theme park experiences," he adds.

Reena Philip, GM Airtravel Enterprises, said, "Most people do not wish to travel to the UK because of the inconvenience of travel there and the current situation. People are also concerned about the backlog in Schengen visas, but we've still noticed a steady inflow of queries for European countries like Spain, Greece, Italy, Germany and France."

As the holidays draw nearer, industry experts anticipate increasing local bookings. "To make vacations unforgettable, families and individuals prefer to stay in beach access properties rather than in cities. Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, including Dubai- beach hotels are the popular destinations for most people," she added.


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