With Schengen visa delays extend until September, leaving many unable to go to Europe, several UAE residents are looking to travel elsewhere this summer. “A lot of our customers are going to Thailand,” said Raja Mir Wasim, Manager, Galadari International Travel Services.
“Bangkok and Phuket are two of our most popular destinations now. Bangkok is popular for its shopping and tourist attractions while Phuket attracts those adventurous travellers who love their water sports.”
However, with the demand being extraordinarily high and flights being limited, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get tickets to the South Asian country, warns Wasim.
Apart from Thailand, Singapore is also a very attractive option for UAE residents with its easy visa options. “If you are vaccinated, you can get an e-visa for Singapore,” said Wasim. “There is no hassle of surrendering your passport as the visa will come by mail and it usually doesn’t take more than 2-3 days.”
Meanwhile, several other travel industry experts report seeing an increase in the number of travellers to Eastern European countries which have visa on arrival facilities.
“For us, the highest number of bookings have been to Georgia,” said Mustaq Vakani of Akbar Travels.
“It is closely followed by Azerbaijan. Both destinations are a short flight ride away from here, have visa on arrival facilities and the temperatures are cooler than Dubai. So, a lot of our customers prefer going there.”
Bujair Mangalangattu from Deira Travels also has similar observations. “Eastern Europe is always a popular option,” he said. “We have seen the highest demand for Georgia and Serbia. Apart from that we have also seen an uptick of interest in Egypt. The visa process is easy for UAE residents. Another destination that has gained a lot of popularity is Turkey. Quite a number of people are choosing to go to Turkey this summer.”
Wasim also agrees. “Anyone who has a Schengen or US visa gets an e-visa to Turkey,” he said.
“This has increased the popularity of Turkey this summer season.”
Meanwhile, experts are urging residents not to skimp on their travel insurance. This comes as travel has seen a robust rebound after more than two years of Covid restrictions.
“It is extremely affordable when you compare against the overall cost of a vacation,” said Akshay Sardana, VP - strategy and international development of insurance intermediary The Continental Group. “The peace of mind when travelling, especially with a family is worth the premiums paid. In fact I would advise travellers to speak to their insurance specialist to ensure that Covid cover is included, look for necessary upgradation when planning a more adventurous or sporty holiday and most importantly, check that the level of policy you are taking out ensures there will be an assigned case manager- someone to act as an advocate in case they need any support- if there is an emergency or a claims question.”