Business | Tourism

Annual holiday rush begins for travellers

Northern colder getaways proving popular with holidaying families

  • By Saifur Rahman, Business Editor
  • Published: 23:30 December 22, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Families on their way out, at Dubai International Airport. The holiday season has started with families heading to different destinations depending on their personal preferences.

Dubai: The Christmas and New Year holiday season is upon us and is most certainly leading to the annual holiday travel rush.

And when it comes to seasonal holidays and winter breaks, most travellers look at the southern hemisphere while some travellers also consider cold destinations — where children can play with snow, airline officials and travel analysts say.

Airlines have been promoting various destinations with attractive offers since the beginning of December to attract seasonal travellers during Christmas and New Year.

A large number of UAE residents fly out to new destinations just to take a break from the regular life.

“The destinations chosen vary based on the type of customer segment — from home country visits, leisure trips to visiting friends and relatives…Emirates has offered attractive fares to all segments to enable customers to travel more often,” Badr Abbas, Emirates’s vice-president, Commercial, UAE, told Gulf News.

“The most popular destinations are Bangkok, London, Vietnam, the GCC destinations, Amsterdam. Emirates is showing approximately 50 per cent growth in bookings this time over last year for all these destinations.”

Many travellers also go to Istanbul and other Turkish cities. Due to turmoil, a lot of people are not travelling to Levant destinations. However, for budget travellers, some European and Central Asian cities are becoming more affordable — such as Athens, Baku and a few others — thanks to the expansion of Air Arabia and FlyDubai’s networks. Due to this factor, more and more people are going to fly a lot more in the coming years.

“Warmer destinations like Seychelles and Maldives indicate a lesser demand compared to last year,” he said.

Most of the vibrant demand is for home country visits by expatriate workers in the UAE followed by, visiting friends and relatives and then follows traditional leisure destinations like Vietnam, London and Bangkok, he said.

“Depending on the type of trip, the duration varies from a week to couple of weeks,” Abbas said.

However, gone are the days when people used to queue up at the travel agent’s office to discuss travel options and take tips. Now all that is available online at the click of a mouse.

Most travellers no longer depend on travel agents to tell them where they should be flying. With the spread of the internet, online portals offer competitive rates of tickets and hotel or apartments and car rentals that beat the rates offered by travel agents.

“Besides, if you have a GPS or access to Google Earth or Maps and various travel apps, you really do not need any extra help to get by,” said a Dubai-based professional who flies frequently. “Wherever I travel on work, I take a day’s break and go on sight-seeing on my own. You really can travel on your own, if you have the necessary tools.”

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