Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 30 September 2020

CORONAVIRUS

UAE travel agents receive influx of inquiries as need for ICA approval is scrapped

Agents say residents and travellers seeking visit visas have been calling to book flights

Travel agencies are expecting an influx of inquiries after a decision to scrap the approval process for residents to return to Abu Dhabi.

Agents said the move was a clear indication that free travel was steadily returning to the country.

Residents can now come back to Abu Dhabi and other emirates after updating their personal details on an online portal and testing negative for Covid-19 within 96 hours of their flight.

“This is good going for everyone and a welcome sign for the UAE,” said Mohamed Zoeb, sales manager for Avalon Travels in Dubai.

“There was a big increase in inquiries after the decision was announced.

"There was uncertainty when every emirate had a different process and separate permits were required but now, even at the corporate level, we are seeing a lot more interest about booking travel to the UAE.”

Mr Zoeb said that under Dubai's separate system, residents must still apply for permission to return through the General Directorate for Residency and Foreigner Affairs.

Things are definitely opening up and it’s not just interest from residents about booking flights but also for visit visas from all nationalities

Mohamed Zoeb, Avalon Travels

He said it would be a few days before the inquiries would become firm bookings because of different rules in each country regarding testing for Covid-19.

“Things are definitely opening up and it’s not just interest from residents about booking flights but also for visit visas from all nationalities,” Mr Zoeb said.

The largest number of inquiries came from Pakistan, India and the Philippines.

On Wednesday, residents who have been abroad after the UAE closed its borders to travellers in March rushed to book tickets back.

Some were successful in updating their information online and booking their flights, others received error messages.

“Dear valued customer: we will consider the possibility of rescheduling your travel date after 60 days in order to preserve your safety," the message read.

"We thank and appreciate your understanding.”

Air India Express shared the announcement on its Twitter account and answered frequently asked questions from people keen on travelling to the UAE

A flight schedule announced a few days ago showed a rise in the number of flights to the UAE from India between August 12 and 31.

There are about 10 to 12 flights daily, with three to four flights each landing in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The services depart from Indian cities including Kozhikode, Mangalore, Tiruchirappalli, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kannur and Kochi to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

The airline listed the documents needed for a traveller returning to Abu Dhabi during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Along with UAE nationals, the UAE government has permitted entry for Indians into UAE until August 31, for which you are required to have a stamped resident permit in the passport," the airline said.

All passengers above 12 year of age also require a valid negative Covid-19 PCR test from a government-approved laboratory in India no older than 96 hours.

Children under the age of 12 and passengers with moderate or severe disabilities are exempt from the swab test.

A health declaration form for Abu Dhabi must be filled and submitted at the emirate's airport on arrival and Al Hosn contact-tracing app must be downloaded, the airline said.

Passengers are also obliged to go into quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Abu Dhabi.

Here is a list of flights from India to the UAE this month:

Updated: August 13, 2020 07:57 AM

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