x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

UAE tour operators sink in the wet conditions

Leisure events take a hit as weather forces tourism companies to cancel activities.

DUBAI // Tour operators have advised against visiting Hatta because the mountain roads are dangerous during unstable weather.

Many operators cancelled desert safaris, cruises and mountain climbing trips after showers hit several parts of the country over the weekend.

Victor Sernando, a manager at Dubai Desert Safari Tours, said they cancelled a Hatta tour for nine people at the weekend and would not want to book tours this week.

"We advise against it this week because the weather has still not cleared up," he said. "The roads in the mountains get very slippery and it is risky to drive up to the wadis."

He said his company's desert safari tours were not majorly affected by the rain because their camp site in Al Haba was unaffected.

"It did not affect the east side of the city. Before we go on the tour we check with our staff positioned there," said Mr Sernando, who organises about four afternoon and evening safaris every weekend. "Because it was raining in Dubai, some of our day trippers decided to cancel."

The camp has waterproof tents for shelter but "if there is an indication of strong winds and heavy rains, like the one some weeks back, then we cancel it", he added.

Mario Dias, 25, a desert camping enthusiast who frequents Area 53, off the Dubai-Hatta road, stayed home at the weekend. "We heard the weather alerts and thought against it," he said. "It is uncomfortable being caught out in the desert when it rains and it gets really cold. Taking back wet supplies in the car is not the easiest thing to do."

Ashim Ameer, the operations manager at Arabian Horizons Tours, which offers trips to Musandam and Hatta mountain safaris, said they would prefer people not to ask for such tours this week.

"We had to cancel this morning as well," he said. "It is not safe in the mountains but we expect the weather to clear up this week."

Mr Ameer said Arabian Horizons cancelled all yacht and parasailing tours over the weekend, and incurred about Dh25,000 in losses. "We had people booked in for a cruise, about 40 people, and 10 visitors for sailing."

An operator at Asia Pacific Travel and Tourism said their business suffered this weekend as several cancellations had to be made. "Approximately five to six trips for cruising and deep sea fishing were cancelled," the operator said.

Cruises can cost between Dh600 and Dh800 per person for an hour.


* With additional reporting by Vesela Todorova