UAE: Domestic tourism to witness boost as Abu Dhabi relaxes entry rules

Abu Dhabi - Capital does away with pre-entry Covid-19 screening at border points

By Dhanusha Gokulan and SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Sun 19 Sep 2021, 1:12 PM

Last updated: Sun 19 Sep 2021, 2:01 PM

Domestic and inter-Emirate tourism is expected to rise now that Abu Dhabi has done away with pre-entry Covid-19 testing at border entry points, experts in the travel sector have said.

On Saturday, September 18, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee announced visitors are no longer required to show a Covid-19 test report at the border before entering the Emirate.

The updated entry procedures are limited only to those entering Abu Dhabi via road borders. The border testing protocols were put in place during the summer of 2020.

Authorities in Abu Dhabi also approved home quarantine without wristbands for international travellers and those in contact with positive cases, effective today (Sunday, September 19). However, positive patients must still wear a wristband. Experts in the travel sector have said all these decisions will encourage Dubai and the Northern Emirates residents and tourists to visit the capital city.

Customised travel packages to Abu Dhabi

Raheesh Babu, the group chief operating officer of, said the agency had launched customised packages for attractions in Dubai and other emirates except for Abu Dhabi as tourists were hesitant to take multiple PCR and quarantine for a few days.

“We have had customised packages for UAE for our clients. Our packages mainly focused on Dubai attractions, and tourists were willing to visit Abu Dhabi but were a bit hesitant for PCR testing and quarantine,” said Babu.

“However, now that the doors of the capital have opened and residents and tourists can travel to the capital without pre-entry testing, I suspect the demand for travel into Abu Dhabi from other Emirates should be on the rise,” he added.


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Despite the border testing requirements, demand for staycations in Abu Dhabi properties remained high throughout last year. “Residents were prepared to get tested and go over to Abu Dhabi for staycations,” Babu added. However, travel agents are now drawing up Expo2020- specific travel packages.

Offers include a six-night package, out of which four nights are for travel in Dubai and two nights in Abu Dhabi. “An alternative package is residents can land in Abu Dhabi, explore the city and then head over to Dubai to visit the Expo site. Only if passengers are not vaccinated, they have to undergo quarantine in the capital,” he added.

Agents have said a majority of the travellers coming to the UAE are fully vaccinated. “Even the Expo authorities are asking for vaccination proof,” Babu explained.

‘Demand set to soar as winter months begin’

Mir Waseem Raja, the manager of MICE and holidays at Galadari International Travel Services (ITS), also told Khaleej Times that travel agents based in different parts of the world have welcomed this move and are requesting them to customise a package that includes Abu Dhabi. “There are many attractions in the capital, and we have been receiving requests to include Abu Dhabi in our itinerary. We may see a good number of tourists visiting both places now,” he said.

Rashid Abbas, the managing director of Arooha Travels, said, “A lot of tourists who are currently in Dubai can now see the capital city. It has been a while that even residents have travelled to Abu Dhabi, so there will be high local demand once the winter months kick in. You can see the difference just by looking at the road traffic. Roads are very crowded.”

Agents have said most international travellers visiting UAE are from the sub-continent, and a steady trickle of queries for winter travel is coming in from Latin and North American countries. “We have some group requests from Qatar as well. People want to see the Expo. Hotel rates are also expected to increase from October 1,” explained Babu.

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