More UAE residents opt for staycations

More UAE residents opt for staycations

Dubai - Besides Ras Al Khaimah and Sir Bani Yas Island, Dubai is the third favourite place for residents who prefer a staycation.


Kelly Clarke

Published: Fri 21 Dec 2018, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 23 Dec 2018, 11:03 AM

This year saw UAE residents take a more money-conscious approach to travel, as staycations within the country proved more popular compared to overseas travel.
Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah clinched a podium finish in the top 10 cities visited by UAE travellers, according to booking data from Agoda. At International Travel Services (ITS), a Galadari Brothers Group travel agency, Ras Al Khaimah took the top spot for clients, followed by Sir Bani Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
While the UAE has been working tirelessly over the years to position itself as a tourist hub for overseas travellers, it seems that more and more residents are choosing to explore pastures new within the country too.
According to the Agoda 2018 booking data, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah beat off stiff competition from some of the world's city break hotspots including Bangkok, Singapore and London, which all ranked fourth, seventh and 10th on the list.
In terms of country-based travel, the top three destinations visited by residents here was the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia and India - both close by. Long-distance travel did not feature on the top five list.
At ITS, a local travel agency, acting manager Lakshmi Anand said its 2018 sales had showed a demand on "staycationing".
"This trend has increased compared to last year, especially during the public holidays. The weather in the UAE is one of the plus points for in-country breaks; diversity is another.
Bookings have varied from luxury beach hotels in Ajman, where the vacationers feel like they're in Maldives or Mauritius, to camping Bedouin-style, which attracts residents because of its economical rates."
Interestingly, Anand said money isn't the only issue pushing this trend. Delays in leave approval from a client's company often result in residents booking a staycation over travel abroad, "as the rates for flights rapidly increase if booked at the last minute". Late notification of public holidays also plays a factor.
"Due to logistical delays such as work commitments, most of our clients end up booking with us last minute, around 75 per cent. The rest book in advance," Anand said.
This year, the UAE has seen the rise of more than a dozen hotels across its major cities, and with that, competition has come competitive discounts on hotel stays.
Touching on the benefits of having healthy competition across hotels, Anand said many four- and five-star hotels have "launched introductory offers that are similar to three-star hotel rates" - a big lure for staycationers.
But why else have we seen this preference towards localised holidays in 2018? Speaking to Khaleej Times, Atik Munshi, a senior partner at Crowe, said there are several factors driving the trend.
"Many often opt for a staycation to take a break without ripping their pockets apart. Planning is also easier and faster as visa cost and hassle are not existent in local holidays."
Given their familiarity with the local competition between hotels, UAE residents have "more power" when it comes to seeking out the best deals, too, providing them with the ideal opportunity to get more bang for their buck, Munshi said.
"With the help of numerous online sites, a holiday-seeker can easily compare the best deals available and plan as per his or her choice. Since the UAE offers all kinds of holiday experiences from adventure, amusement and family-friendly, users are spoilt for choice," he added.
Munshi said the "level of economic uncertainty and security is one of the factors that forces a person or a family to make cost-conscious decisions".
With thousands of accommodation choices, as well as some globally recognised attractions like the world's tallest building, the largest indoor theme park, and the biggest shopping mall, staycations seem like the obvious choice for money-saving travel for residents within the country.
And over at Uranas Travel and Tours in Dubai, the manager said that for their firm that specialises in outbound holidays rather than in-country vacations, sales have dipped.
"We don't actually book breaks within the country but this trend sounds right. From our side, what I can tell you is that sales figures from this year have seen a drop in the number of people choosing to travel abroad. It's hard to quantify the reason for the drop in percentage, but it has gone down for sure. Again, pinpointing why that is, is hard to say, but money issues could be a reason."

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