A majority of Indian expatriates in the UAE may not travel to India for the summer holidays this year over fears of getting stranded back home, travel agents have said.
The months from June to August are usually peak travel times for Indian expatriates, as they coincide with school summer holidays.
However, uncertainty over the ongoing suspension on incoming passengers from India is the primary reason for the low demand, said Indian residents and travel agents.
Raheesh Babu, the group COO of Musafir.com, an internet-based travel agency said, “If you compare the demand to previous years, there is very little demand for travel to India. People are unsure if the flights would resume normalcy and if they book tickets and are unable to travel, they will lose money. Many also fear getting stuck in India if they travel right now.”
“Instead, Indian families are opting for destinations such as Georgia, Armenia, Russia, Albania, and Montenegro for example. Travel to these countries is hassle- free,” he said.
Babu said for the upcoming Eid Al Adha holidays, 85 per cent of the inventory to these destinations are already sold out.
“It is a very positive sign. The demand is predominantly from Indian travellers as well. Instead of travelling back home, they are planning trips to these destinations for the summer holidays.”
Babu also said thousands of Indian visit visa holders who are in the UAE are opting to renew their visa status internally.
Bharath Aidasani, the managing partner of Pluto Travels, said, "People are traveling to India only on an emergency basis. They are considering staying back to see if the Covid-19 situation improves during the months of August and September.”
He added, “We can expect normalcy of travellers to and from India only when the situation improves for better. Once the situation is normal, I believe people will be willing to travel to India like earlier."
"We have been receiving heavy enquiries to Europe and Africa for summer vacations. I can see that demand for travel to Southern Europe."
Raja Mir Wasim, manager, Mice and holidays, Galadari International Travel Services (ITS), said “Vacations to India may have taken a hit as Indians prefer Russia and southern Europe as ideal vacationing destination in pandemic.”
Shaikh Shibli, head of marketing at ITL World said: “Currently, the flights information is not available from the airlines. Airports in India are setting up a facility for rapid antigen test. We may see a spike in booking to Indian cities once these systems are put in place."
"People have learnt that burnt their hands travelling to India as they have been stranded. We have recorded a heavy demand for visa-free and hassle-free destinations. Many destinations are offering quarantine free for vaccinated travellers,” Shibli added.
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