x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Eid holiday boosts travel plans

Tourists are taking advantage of the long Eid holiday with extended trips away from home.

Passengers wait their turn at Sharjah International Airport’s check-in counter.
Passengers wait their turn at Sharjah International Airport’s check-in counter.

Travel bookings for the Eid holiday have surged as tourists take advantage of the long holiday.

Travel demand during the last Eid holiday, at the end of Ramadan, was relatively light because it fell over a weekend and at the end of the summer holidays.

"We have seen a twofold increase in the number of guests travelling this Eid al Adha as compared to the first Eid," said Rui Sequeira, the regional manager of commercial operations at Emirates Holidays.

"The average length of stay is between four and five nights," said Mr Sequeira. "However, since a lot of schools are closed for the entire week, we have noticed that guests are booking longer duration stays.

"The most popular destinations are the Maldives, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and Singapore. But we also received a lot of positive interest for travel to Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Cyprus, the UK, Egypt, Hong Kong and Jordan."

Emirates Holidays launched several offers of four nights for the price of three for the Eid break to destinations including Kenya, Cape Town and Bali.

Singapore's tourism board has reported strong demand from the UAE for Eid.

"Demand for travel to Singapore is very strong this year, with flights running at full capacity," said Jason Ong, the area director for the Middle East and Africa at the Singapore Tourism Board. "This is due to the improved economic climate as well as the many new attractions and activities in Singapore." Among the new attractions is the Universal Studios theme park.

"Traffic looks set to be stronger for this Eid versus the earlier Eid due to the longer holiday breaks and, more importantly, the earlier Eid came hot on the heels of the summer holidays," said Mr Ong.

Thailand is another popular destination for UAE travellers, with visitors encouraged to attend the Loy Krathong festival, or festival of floating lanterns.

"In general I think that for all the Eid holidays all countries will see an increase," said Zeid Malhas, the marketing manager of Thailand's Tourism Authority in Dubai.

The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) said last week that international tourist arrivals grew by 7 per cent in the first eight months of this year compared with the same period last year.

The recovery in tourism expenditure is proving much slower, but the numbers of people travelling have now risen above pre-economic crisis levels, says UNWTO. Worldwide tourist numbers between January and August this year reached 642 million, about 1 million more than the record number of travellers in the same period of 2008.