Dubai: Most travellers prefer short-haul, inexpensive places only three hours away and charge cheaper airfares. UAE residents are looking for places to visit during the Eid holidays.
Even apart from the difficulties of obtaining a Schengen visa in time for the holidays and sky-high airfares. Travel companies are predicting an increase in demand for vacations to European locations like the UK for the upcoming Easter and Eid holidays.
Although there are fewer visa appointments available and nonstop economy flights for travel from April 21 to April 28 begin at Dh3,335 (Dubai to the UK through British Airways) and reach as high as Dh4,595 (Dubai to Lisbon on Emirates), UAE and Gulf travellers are making every effort to celebrate Eid abroad this year.
CEO of the TCA Group of Companies Ahmed M. Soliman stated: “Travellers who have taken their Schengen visas well in advance re choosing destinations such as Italy, France, and the UK.” He said: “There are a lot of promotions in Central London now, for example. The iconic Regent Street in West London has been decked up for Ramadan for the first time. There is a greater acknowledgement that targeting Middle East customers has become more important.”
According to travel agencies, customers who book last-minute flights to any destination must pay outrageous prices for tickets. Non-stop economy flights to most European destinations start at Dh3,000, except for Vienna, Austria, where Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers a flight for Dh1,118. Sahana Shetty, managing director of Amazing Travel and Tourism, predicted that prices would continue to rise. “Airfares shot up by 35 to 40 per cent compared to the same period last year, and it will only go up from here”.
The price of an economy flight from Dubai to Paris is Dh3,965, which is 35% more expensive than the price in March–April 2022, which was Dh2,577. These were the costs for flying to Paris in January and February of this year. Similarly, nonstop economy flights from Dubai to Rome cost Dh3,685 as compared to Dh2,385 in 2022. Flights to Barcelona are now Dh4,825 from Dh3,136, and flights to Copenhagen are now Dh2,182 from Dh3,275. These are the prices for several airlines, such as British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi.
Short-haul inexpensive destinations continue to offer reasonable costs. Flights to Istanbul are now available for Dh925, down from Dh1,567, and flights to Tbilisi are now provided at Dh1,389. According to Sahana, “Airfares to Georgia are constant because it is such a popular destination. Many travellers currently planning trips have gone there at least three times.” Tashkent has one of the cheapest round-trip ticket rates among Central Asian countries at Dh698.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has just added a few additional locations to its expanding network, including popular flights to Medina (Saudi Arabia), the Maldives, Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), and Santorini (Greece), with prices beginning at only Dh179. Managing Director and Officer of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, Johan Eidhagen, stated: “Adventurous travellers can enjoy 20 per cent off our already ultra-low-fare fares.”
Places in the Indian Ocean are witnessing a major increase in demand from UAE tourists. According to Escapes – Luxury Travel’s GCC General Manager, Ghassan Al-Khatib: “Maldives tops the list at the moment, followed by Seychelles and Mauritius. Price-wise, these destinations are relatively more affordable as it is not peak travel season.”
The best time to visit the Maldives is between December and February. “Of course, hotels would increase their prices during Eid, but depending on your budget, you can find hotel rooms for anything between a few $100 to several thousand dollars.”
He added: “There are a few requests to Bali since Emirates has launched a direct flight to Denpasar International Airport.” After the summer, we expect demand to turn towards the US again. However, there is still a 596-day waiting period for new B1/B2 visitor visas. “Given the scale of pent-up demand, it is recommended that embassies get back in action and respond to visa requests sooner.”
Al-Khatib also stated that tourism in Saudi Arabia is growing. “While most of the demand is coming from those going to perform Umrah, there is also immense demand for leisure travel to destinations such as AlUla, Diriyah, and Yanbu,” added Al-Khatib.
Destinations closer to the home include Egypt and Turkey, said Soliman. “The earthquake didn’t affect Istanbul as much, and getting visas to Turkey is relatively easy. Egypt, on the other hand, is easy to travel to. With the deflation of the Egyptian pound, it is also a cost-effective destination.”
“Sri Lanka is coming up good,” said Zahara D’Souza, a Dubai-based travel consultant with Travel Counsellors. Zanzibar is also in demand. Many people want to visit Oman.” Zahara also stated that many budget-conscious travellers have now begun to plan their trips far in advance rather than relying on last-minute bookings.
As per Ayoub El Mamoun, a Skyscanner travel expert, more than half (52%) of tourists from the UAE are looking for trips that last up to a week. Ayoub offered the following advice to travellers hoping to make the most of their Easter vacations: