Travellers in the UAE and the GCC have expressed an interest in planning short vacations over the Eid break with their families, leading to a surge in enquiries about short-haul flights, experts reported.
Shaik Shibli, head of Marketing at ITL World, noted that several countries which depend on tourism, including the UAE, are slowly opening their borders and easing restrictions for visitors.
"We have seen a rising number of enquiries from GCC nationals wishing to travel on short-haul destinations, especially with the Eid break and winter months coming in," he said. "It will be the country, the airline, and hospitality industry's priority to build customer confidence back up on outbound and inbound markets that have opened up, and provide a safe and hygienic travel environment across the entire guest journey."
Travel insurance is critical
Travellers, Shibli added, will always welcome incentives which will encourage them to fly again safely. This includes insurance policies which cover virus-related disruptions and a cheaper or easier process to obtain visas for travelling abroad.
"The need for travel insurance is more critical than ever," he said. "The UAE has made it mandatory for anyone coming into the country to obtain travel insurance before they arrive, but not all countries have set such stipulations yet. However, given the nature of this pandemic, our insurance partners advise everyone to get travel insurance before boarding a flight."
Lakshmi Anand, manager of Travel & Tours at International Travel Services - Galadari Group, noted that while flights have started opening up for a few destinations, passengers have had to alter their plans to take into account the self-isolation and quarantine rules that are implemented at each destination.
"A few insurance companies have already added Covid-19 coverage under emergency in their policies, which will bring some relief to travellers," she said. "Certain airlines have also specified that travellers from a few countries would have to carry a negative Covid-19 certificate that has been issued no less than 96 hours prior to their flight."
Safety is key for residents and visitors
Mehar Sawlani, director of Sales at Richmond Gulf Tourism, noted that safety will be key for both travellers and airports. The UAE, she said, should be taken as an example by other countries because the country has been extremely proactive in implementing a far-ranging series of preventive healthcare and hygiene protocols, including ramping up its hospital infrastructure and advancing testing capabilities. This is confirmed by its ranking as one of the world's top countries for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The UAE continues to deploy technologically integrated advanced safety controls to prevent, monitor, detect, and ring-fence any incidences within the tourism ecosystem," she said. "Many travel insurance policies cover Covid-19; travellers just need to check on their policy as travel insurance is a must during this pandemic."
Neeraj Goswami, associate director of Air Business at Cleartrip, observed that with the UAE opening up, airlines have been ramping up capacity in recent weeks. The UAE government has done a fantastic job at keeping things under control, he said.
"Airlines have responded by adding more capacity going into August and September," he said. "Now it is a question of destinations opening up - Europe already has, albeit in a restricted manner. The GCC will follow soon, as will South East Asia. The Indian Subcontinent might take a little longer, but eventually it'll be obvious that we have to stay safe without letting life come to a standstill. We've seen a steady growth in demand over the past couple of weeks, we're sure the trend will grow stronger in the following weeks."
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