Thousands of expatriates in the UAE plan to meet relatives in Europe and the Caucasus this summer.
Families vacation together in destinations such as Iceland, Malta and Cyprus – forgoing home trips as the prospect of a hotel quarantine proves too much to bear.
The Greek Islands, Georgia and Armenia are also among the best choices.
Meeting relatives halfway turned out to be more appealing than around 40 10-night hotels in places like the UK and Ireland.
We have seen a huge increase in inquiries about different holiday destinations, especially Malta, Cyprus and the Greek Islands.
Paul Farrell, Premium Choice Travel
Local travel agents said airlines offer “seasonal flights to a number of destinations that provide hassle-free travel” for vaccinated passengers.
This is leading to an increase in bookings and inquiries from travelers who typically spend their summers at home in countries such as the UK, Philippines, India and Ireland.
“We have seen a huge increase in inquiries about different vacation destinations, particularly Malta, Cyprus and the Greek Islands,” said Paul Farrell, owner of Premium Choice Travels at Jumeirah Lakes Towers in Dubai.
“Emirates and Etihad have launched seasonal flights to Mykonos and Santorini in Greece, which has generated a lot of interest due to the travel corridor with the United Arab Emirates.
“Because there aren’t many places or countries where people can travel easily, airlines and hotel providers are looking to attract people, and therefore the prices don’t really matter. significantly increased. ”
Mr Farrell said his agency has also received requests for longer stays in European destinations providing hassle-free travel to residents of the United Arab Emirates.
Many use their accumulated annual leave for vacation rather than just a vacation.
“Customers are looking for many independent packages that extend beyond the traditional length of vacation stays,” he said.
“More and more people are looking to stay beyond the usual 10 days or two weeks. I have a family at the moment who want to go to Cyprus for three weeks and similar requests for Thailand as it is due to open on July 1st.
Ellanie Villena, owner of Angel Wings International Tourism travel agency in Dubai, said she had received many more requests for destinations such as Armenia and Georgia for stays of two to three weeks.
Usually, destinations are popular for long weekends or the Eid holidays, but over the past few months bookings have increased as people have a lot of annual leave to use up before the year is up.
Mother-of-two Laura Morgan typically spends much of her summer in the UK, but this year the plans have changed.
“The plan is to meet my mother in Cyprus on July 14. We were supposed to go to Thailand, but she reportedly traveled from the UK and was unable to get travel insurance,” she said.
“She once had a canceled flight from the UK to Cyprus, but we booked a second one so let’s keep our fingers crossed that everything is alright.
“We are leaving for 20 nights and don’t bother to go to the UK afterwards. There is just too much uncertainty and I am still stressed out after our visit there over Christmas.
Ms Morgan, who has lived in Dubai for seven years and has a child aged one and three, said booking flights to Cyprus from the United Arab Emirates was straightforward as she and her husband were fully vaccinated.
“Our flights are booked and we booked a large independent villa on Airbnb, but we were able to find a place that would allow us to cancel for free until July 9,” she said.
“Traveling is stressful right now. My mother is panicking because of the traffic light system for traveling in the UK.
“There are only two weeks left before we’re supposed to meet, but it feels like a life with so much uncertainty.”
Maria Lopez, a fashion designer from the Philippines, travels to Georgia to meet her cousin and brother who live in the UK.
With a family living all over the world, including the United States, Singapore and Saudi Arabia, the mother-of-two said they typically all meet in the Philippines every two years.
“We just can’t handle a return trip this year. I don’t want to risk getting stuck in the Philippines because I have to get back to work by the end of July and things there are still a bit unstable, ”she said.
“We talked about canceling the family reunion altogether, but just two days ago three of us decided to book flights to Georgia and we will be spending three weeks there.
“I am vaccinated, so I have to take a PCR test within 72 hours before returning to the UAE, so it’s simple.
“My flight was less than Dh 2,000 and the accommodation is affordable. If I don’t meet at least some of my family now, I might not see them for a year and I can’t cope with it.
In the past, the UK was one of the UAE’s top five destinations for vacation and overnight stays. However, as of mid-January, the Emirates have been on the UK’s red list, meaning anyone traveling from the UAE must self-isolate in a managed hotel for 10 days.
In the Philippines, unvaccinated passengers are required to self-quarantine for 14 days, 10 of which are in a government-run hotel.
Vaccinated passengers must show proof of vaccination before entering quarantine for only seven days.