Vacation costs skyrocket as school holidays begin

Vacation costs skyrocket as school holidays begin
The peak season for leisure begins mid-December to March and from July until September.

Abu Dhabi - Many families are now looking at "cheaper destinations" that wouldn't fork out heavily from their pockets.

By Jasmine Al Kuttab

Published: Fri 23 Mar 2018, 8:23 PM

With the beginning of the mid-term school holidays, parents are planning family vacations, but many are finding it frustrating that prices have skyrocketed during the peak season.
Mohanad Mashaat told Khaleej Times that just purchasing return tickets from Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles for his family of four will cost a whopping Dh40,000, double the price he would pay during off-peak season. "One return ticket to LA has cost me nearly Dh9,900, whereas I would usually pay around Dh5,000. We don't really have a choice; the kids need to have a break and this is the only time they can visit their families," added the father of two.
Travel agencies in the UAE told Khaleej Times that many families are now looking at "cheaper destinations" that wouldn't fork out heavily from their pockets.
"Everyone is now budget-oriented and looking for cheaper holiday destinations for their families," said Iram Ajmal, holiday manager at UTravel.
"People are mostly looking at Sri Lanka, Georgia and Azerbaijan, because they are cheaper, shorter duration and do not require a visa," added Ajmal, who has been in the travel industry for 15 years. "Packages to these destinations will cost around Dh1,900 per person during the off-peak season, but during the peak season it will be double the price," she added.
She said the peak season for leisure, which begins mid-December to March and from July until September, can end-up costing families double of what they usually pay during the off-peak season.
"During the off-peak season, many airlines have fresher promotions and sometimes tickets to Istanbul, for example, will cost around Dh1,000, however, the same flight will go up to Dh3,000 during the peak season."
"The same is applicable for Georgia, Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka, which are the most demandable destinations at this time."
She pointed out that off-peak season price for the three popular destinations is almost Dh1,000-1,300, whereas during the peak season it costs each person Dh2,500-3,000. 
Ajmal said families on tight budgets often request unrealistic holiday packages during the peak season. "Sometimes we get really unrealistic budgets from customers - families of two adults and three children wanting a package that includes flights, transportation and hotels for Dh5,000 - which is impossible."
For Paris, Ajmal recommends families with tight budgets "to not take direct flights, as they are the costliest". "Most people prefer to have a direct flight to Paris, which goes up to Dh3,500 in the peak season, but some are open for various flights, which will cost Dh2,500-2,800 in the peak season."
Fardan MH, operations manager, Deira Travel and Tourist Agency, said families are now paying double the price for packages during the school holidays. "Off-peak rates for the lowest package to Georgia, Armenia and Baku would range from Dh1,400-1,500."
He said pricing for packages during the peak season range from Dh2,200-Dh3,200 per person. "Cities like Vienna, Prague, Paris, Seoul, Moscow, Tokyo and Istanbul were the popular destinations last year, but this year, more families are opting for Georgia, Bali and Armenia, because they cost less."

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