Travel agents have recorded a spike in demand for visitors from the United Kingdom ever since the UAE was moved out of the UK’s red list earlier this month.
The revised measures from the Boris Johnson government — which extended relief to India, Bahrain and Qatar as well — went into effect on August 8 and has led to an uptick in inbound traffic from the UK to the UAE, as Emiratis and expatriates alike invite their friends and family to the country.
“We’re seeing a surge in search traffic for travel to and from the UK since the UAE was placed on the amber list,” Emily Jenkins, the head of leisure, UAE, at dnata Travel, told Khaleej Times.
Jenkins noted that they had received several enquiries from the UAE. The trend is likely to sustain in the coming months, as both winter and Expo 2020, which begins on October 1, are around the corner.
Raheesh Babu, the group chief operating officer of online travel agency Musafir.com, said business prospects look rosy, as the UAE is tipped to be placed on the green list soon owing to a dip in daily Covid-19 infections.
“Bookings are likely to pick up in a big way soon,” said Babu.
The UK has long been one of the hottest destinations for UAE residents.
“Emiratis simply love London. However, the demand hasn’t gone up exponentially since the UK placed the UAE on the amber list,” he said.
“Perhaps, this is due to the late announcement by the UK authorities, as many Emiratis were through with their vacation around this time of the year. They usually travel abroad for about a month during the first week of July or after Eid Al Fitr. So, the lifting of the ban from August 8 was late for many Emiratis. Besides, the new school year starts from August 29; many Emiratis are on vacation in other European countries and they are likely to return home soon,” he added.
Prohibitive quarantine costs
Emirati Saeed Al Mulla, who runs a real estate business in the UK, had travelled to London when the UAE was still on the red list.
“I travelled via Bulgaria and quarantined there for 10 days, before arriving in the UK on August 2,” Al Mulla told Khaleej Times over the phone from London.
“Emiratis, who largely travel to the UK, own vacation homes or have other residential properties or businesses. They are open to home quarantine in the UK. However, the costs are prohibitive for those who have to quarantine themselves in hotels. They end up spending much for what it would cost on a vacation to the UK. As a result, it’s certainly not an attractive proposition to travel to the UK for those who don’t own properties there. Most people are travelling to the UK only out of necessity and compulsion,” he said.
Wait for the green list
Another Emirati, Mohammed Al Kaabi, had planned to visit his friends in the UK but has decided to put his plans on hold till the UAE is placed on the green list.
“I had planned to travel to London for 10 days to catch up with my friends. However, on second thoughts, I changed my mind because it was turning out to be an expensive trip for such a short stay. The hotel quarantine and PCR test costs are exponentially higher than in the UAE,” said Al Kaabi.
“It’s best to wait it out till the UAE is placed on the green list,” he added.