UAE travel: Top visa-friendly summer destinations for residents revealed

Residents planning holidays with budget in mind, say tour operators

by

Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sat 29 Apr 2023, 5:21 PM

Last updated: Sat 6 May 2023, 4:05 PM

Many UAE residents are planning their holidays smartly this summer with a budget in mind, factoring in contingencies and choosing new overseas locations.

As travellers anticipate delays and cancellations with ongoing disruptions at the UK and other European airports, many are choosing destinations that are just a few hours away from home.

Travel agents in the country highlight those countries like Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka are especially becoming popular this year with Turkey and Egypt once again picking up traffic.

Reena Philip, General Manager, Air Travels Enterprise says, “The traffic has increased by 22-30 per cent as compared to the same period last year when people were scared of travelling due to Covid-19. The situation obviously is much better this year. But having said this, the numbers have still not reached pre-Covid times. The destination where people are looking to travel to, are parts of Europe and South Asia.”

“Most people do not wish to travel to the UK because of the inconvenience of travelling 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.”

Affordability and proximity to the emirate are other criteria as per travel experts.

“As far as Asian countries are concerned a lot of people this year have shown interest in Sri Lanka, which is close to the UAE. But these are typically for short trips of four to five days after which they intend to travel to their home country. We’ve got a lot of queries from north Indians in the UAE who’ve expressed interest in travelling to places like Kerala. Conversely, many South Indians want to travel to north Indian destinations like Delhi and even Kathmandu in Nepal.

“Another place that we had initially anticipated that would see a lot of enquiries is Israel. But due to the political situation there, the queries are not really materializing into actual bookings. So, things have not been picking up on that front,” she added.

Raheesh Babu, COO of Musafir.com says, “As individuals make holiday plans, there is a high demand for cost-effective and visa-friendly travel destinations. Countries in the CIS like Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia are in high demand, and Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are becoming more popular. In addition, destinations such as Singapore, Kenya, Thailand, and Malaysia are also gaining popularity. Obtaining visas for Schengen countries, the UK, USA, and Canada is still a challenge, which is why individuals tend to favour countries where obtaining visas is hassle-free.”

Although, Covid-19 cases in India have been steadily rising, but travel agents aver that this has not impacted outbound travellers to the sub-continent so far.

This summer, a majority of people going to Asian countries account for 60 per cent (keeping in mind UAE’s population composition) of travellers, while the remaining 40 per cent prefer European countries.

He adds, “During the summer season, a significant number of UAE residents are returning to their home countries – the Indian subcontinent, Europe, the USA, the UK etc. This trend is primarily due to the school holidays, as families travel to spend time with loved ones.”

Experts in the field caution that when travelling to destinations like the UK, “One should always choose a flexi ticket option and maintain constant communication with their travel agents for the latest updates.”

Lakshmi Anand, Managing Director - Ascentia Travel & Tours says, “Several new destinations have come up this year for summer travel. Kyrgyzstan is one such place. Apart from that there is Kazakhstan. Jordan also remains popular with travellers due visa-on-arrival facility for UAE residents. Then there are other destinations like Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"People are also showing interest in Nepal and Bhutan this year. The political situation has improved in Sri Lanka hence many people have this island nation on their minds. Tanzania used to be popular, but due to the Marburg virus outbreak people are opting out.”

According to her, the demand for Saudi Arabia has increased after the Kingdom eased visa procedures and allowed multiple entry permits. People want to go there for shorter trips. Oman is an all-time favourite with residents who do not wish to undertake long trips.

“UAE is a last-minute market, were are witnessing a huge surge in queries as compared to last year. As summer inches closer, more bookings will take place. Turkey is back in action. Greece remains a popular destination. Egypt is also doing well as a travel destination.”

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