UAE National Day: Airfares shoot up by 300%, family staycations hit Dh20,000 as last-minute bookings soar

With residents scrambling to book getaways after the long weekend announcement, a sharp spike in demand triggers instant price increases

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SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Sat 25 Nov 2023, 2:32 PM

Last updated: Sat 25 Nov 2023, 9:38 PM

The surprise announcement of an additional day off next weekend has got many thinking: Is there still a flight or a hotel room available for a quick getaway?

The good news is that, yes, flights and hotel stays are open for booking — but get ready to dig deep into your pocket as the costs are way higher than the usual.

Airfares to popular long weekend destinations have jumped by nearly 300 per cent for the UAE National Day.

A one-way ticket from the UAE to Armenia and Georgia starts at Dh529 during the holidays, according to a search on various travel websites. The usual airfares to these destinations are just Dh120 to Dh160.

Those flying to India should be ready to shell out about Dh745 for Mumbai and Dh1,200 for Bangalore — marking a big difference from average rates in the second week of January which are Dh391 and Dh504, respectively.

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Direct flights to Pakistan's Karachi start at Dh455; London at Dh1,659; and to Istanbul at Dh456.However, during the second week of January, these flights can be booked at Dh335, Dh1,200, and Dh330, respectively.

Travel experts said many of the holiday bookings they had received would start after November 30, which means many would be taking a day off on Friday to extend their breaks.

“Long weekends are when family and friends are up for travel and the demand is massive among UAE residents,” said Subair Thekepurathvalappil, senior manager for inbound and outbound operations at Regal Tours Worldwide.

“Airfares vary for different sectors, depending on dates and availability of the flights. It can change every minute to a few hours," said Subair.

Experts also noted that they can hold the bookings for a few hours. “Travellers who are not certain of their travel hold their bookings for better airfare. Bookings can be held for a few hours, with fares locked in," said Geoffrey Salatan, president and CEO of Geoffrey Travels. “This is done as the prices may vary every minute to a few hours."

UAE staycations

Those who were not ready to hop on a plane were considering staycations but since the demand skyrocketed, prices were higher, too.

"With many Dubai schools declaring December 1 and 4 as holidays, the city has witnessed an unprecedented surge in the demand for staycations,” said Shilpa Mahtani, CBO of bnbme Holiday Homes.

“This spike in interest has notably impacted our accommodation offerings, with our 1-bedroom units becoming particularly sought after, fetching an average nightly rate of Dh1,200 to Dh1,500. Simultaneously, our two-bedroom units are seeing robust demand, with prices ranging from Dh1,800 to Dh2,200 per night," Mahtani said.

On the popular platform booking.com, five-star properties can be seen charging Dh2,300 for two-night stays for a family of four, even going up to Dh20,000 in Ras Al Khaimah, for the National Day holiday dates. The regular two-night rates for such properties, however, start at just Dh1,200, with the highest being Dh8,000.

Similarly, in Fujairah, the rate for a 5-star property during the long weekend starts at Dh1,480 up to Dh10,000 for a family of four. However, on regular days, a two-night staycation can be booked for only Dh550 to Dh5,500.

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