Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

UAE travellers plan on visiting Egypt, India, the Philippines and Turkey as restrictions ease

Domestic tourism is also in demand, with a spike in bookings for hotel stays across the Emirates

Since the easing of travel restrictions in Dubai, a change of scenery seems to have been on the minds of UAE nationals and residents.

Flight and hotel searches on travel meta-search engine Wego shot up after Dubai announced that travel would be allowed out of the country from June 23.

“Following the announcement of the lifting of travel restrictions in the UAE, we saw an uplift in searches for flights and hotels," said Mamoun Hmedan, managing director of Wego for Mena and India.

Between Monday, June 22 and Sunday, June 28, the search engine recorded more than 352,000 flight searches from UAE users. That equates to a 10 per cent growth, week on week, in flight and hotel searches from people based in the UAE.

“Following the announcement of the lifting of travel restrictions in the UAE, we saw an uplift in searches for flights and hotels

Mamoun Hmedan, Wego

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most searched for destinations by UAE users was very close to home. Wego recorded a big increase in searches for hotel stays across the emirates.

In terms of global travel, UAE trip-planners are mostly searching for flight bookings to Egypt. The African country is set to reopen to commercial flights from July 1 and travellers can avail of free tourism visas upon arrival for visiting some of Egypt’s resort destinations.

India, the Philippines, Turkey and Sudan rounded up the top five global countries that UAE residents are keen to visit. However, it is likely that several of these searches were made by residents looking to repatriate as India and the Philippines are currently closed to tourists. Morocco, Jordan and Lebanon are the next most in-demand destinations.

“Travellers are eager to travel and are planning for their next holiday, with most of them looking to book a vacation back home or a family trip,” said Hmedan.

Most people searching for flights on Wego from the UAE seem to be planning to travel for longer periods of time, rather than for short breaks. The average duration of trips searched on the site were for stays lasting from 7 to 14 days.

Staying close to home

The UAE was the most searched for destination by travellers based in the Emirates according to Wego's most recent data. This is down to the large number of people searching for staycations. Courtesy Sofitel Dubai The Palm
The UAE was the most searched for destination by travellers based in the Emirates thanks to a surge in staycations. Courtesy Sofitel Dubai The Palm

Domestic travel has also seen a boost in demand as movement restrictions across the UAE have eased. The Emirates ranked number one in the top five Mena destinations searched for by UAE-based travellers on Wego.

This rise in domestic tourism is seen as “the first step towards the revival of the tourism industry,” said Hmedan.

Following the UAE, the hottest Mena destinations searched for by UAE users were Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

More destinations set to rise in popularity

The Maldives will reopen to tourists on July 15 with Emirates resuming flights to Male from Dubai on July 16. Courtesy Soneva
The Maldives will reopen to tourists on July 15 with Emirates resuming flights to Male from Dubai on July 16. Courtesy Soneva

As travel restrictions ease in more countries around the world, new destinations are likely to rise in popularity with UAE-based holidaymakers.

The Maldives is reopening to tourists from Wednesday, July 15 and could well see a spike in interest with travellers from Dubai. Its proximity, just four hours from the UAE, plus Emirates's recent announcement that it will resume flights to the Indian Ocean archipelago on Tuesday, July 16 look set to work well for the country's tourism.

According to hotelier Sonu Shivdasani, founder of Maldivian retreats Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani, summer bookings at both luxury resorts are higher this year compared to the same time last year.

“From the Middle East, we’ve had lots of enquiries coming in. We expect we’ll get a lot of people travelling here from the UAE who would normally go to London for the summer. We’ve had a lot of interest already for bookings for the end of July,” explained Shivdasani.

Residents planning to fly out of Dubai must apply for permission before doing so. Passengers should submit an online form to Dubai’s immigration service to obtain an approval number that will be needed to book flights out of the country.

Updated: June 30, 2020 09:27 AM

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