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Visa-free trips a hit among UAE residents as airfares soar.

Summary: The travel agents also advise people to pre-book holidays by at least 90 days to avoid over-spending on travel tickets.

Jasmine Al Kuttab

People in the UAE are also showing a lot of interest in Bali (Dh2,499), Kenya (Dh4,100) and Maldives.

As airfares have skyrocketed with almost 50 per cent rise ahead of the National Day holidays, residents are opting for destinations that do not require visas and staycations, according to travel agents.

The travel agents also advise people to pre-book holidays by at least 90 days to avoid over-spending on travel tickets.

Albert Fernando, founder and CEO of, said: "Most of the customers in the UAE are 'last minute market,' booking their tickets right before the day of travel.

"I advise people to always book around one and a half month in advance for holidays like the UAE National Day, because you can save around 30 per cent."

He added: "What's happening in the market at the moment is people are travelling to places that don't require visas."

Fernando said there is also a rise in ticket sales for cruises and staycation packages. He said the most popular destinations that residents are choosing to travel to for the UAE National Day holidays are Ukraine (Dh1,999 for a package per person / Dh1,700 during off-season); Georgia (Dh1,739 / off-season is Dh1,500), and Azerbaijan Dh2,199 and Dh1,999 during the off-season.

People in the UAE are also showing a lot of interest in Bali (Dh2,499), Kenya (Dh4,100) and Maldives.

"Apart from these current popular destinations during the holidays, there has also been UAE Nationals traffic to the UK and other European countries, where visa is granted upon arrival."

Not a new development

Iram Ajmal, outbound and holidays manager, UTravel DMCC, told Khaleej Times: "Prices keep going up every year, this is not the first time. Whenever there is a holiday season, the prices increase. When you compare this with the previous year, it will be higher. It is best to preplan your holidays to save money."

She pointed out that the most popular destinations people in the UAE are booking for the upcoming holidays are Sri Lanka, Maldives, Sea Shells and Muscat.

Ajmal said tickets to Sri Lanka starts from Dh1,800 compared to around Dh1,500 during off-season; tickets to Maldives are currently around Dh5,000, but during off-season it is available half the price.

Flights to Seychelles during the holiday season are around Dh5,000, but only Dh3,000 during off-season.

Tickets to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) are around Dh4,200, but during the off-season they cost around Dh2,200. Meanwhile, travelling to Bangkok (Thailand) for the holidays can cost around Dh3,900 when it comes around Dh2,500 in the off-season.

The UAE National Day holiday is a short break so people chase destinations that have a maximum duration flight of around three-four hours. Some people take extra days off from work to combine with the National Day holidays and prefer to travel to nearby places.

She said the most popular staycation destinations are currently hotels and resorts in Al Ain and Ras Al Khaimah.

The other top destinations which are being booked before the holidays are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, according to another travel agent.

Although prices have gone up for the upcoming holidays, residents are still able to find affordable packages, he said.

The prices for travelling to Armenia starts from Dh2,100 per person, Azerbaijan Dh2,300, and Nepal Dh1,800.

"These prices are inclusive of flight tickets, four star hotel accommodation, transfer and basic tours," he added. Off-Season packages are still relatively cheaper, however.

Reach airport early, travellers told

Travel is expected to peak this weekend for Emirates, as the airline expects a busy period with visitors passing through Terminal 3 ahead of the 47th UAE National Day holiday.

The airline has reminded passengers to arrive at the airport at least three hours before their flight departures.

"Customers departing from Dubai International Airport should allow extra time to travel to the airport, check in and clear security. We advise arriving 3 hours before your flight as it will be a busy day in T3," the airline tweeted on its official Twitter handle.

The UAE has announced a two-day holiday for both public and private sectors on the occasion of the National Day.

The holiday starts on December 2, Sunday and will run until December 3, Monday. Work will resume the following day.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Nov 25, 2018
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