Agents recommend that residents, especially those with confirmed travel plans, book their tickets as soon as possible, as airfares are expected to rise sharply in the coming weeks. Image Credit: Unsplash

Dubai: UAE residents are looking forward to a long Eid weekend from April 21 to Monday, April 24 (The official dates will be confirmed by the government closer to Eid) and most of them have already snapped up holiday packages to visa-free destinations. Travel agencies and airlines are already reporting higher-than-average bookings in the lead up to the month, with some steep discounts on ticket rates being an incentive to get onto an aircraft.

For example, flydubai’s Eid holiday travel deal to Yerevan is priced at Dh3,500 for a three-night stay, which includes economy flight tickets and a hotel stay. Similarly, packages to Azerbaijan and Thailand are going for Dh3,150.

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And travel deals to popular visa-free or visa-on-arrival destinations such as Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia are among the go-to choices for UAE residents. According to travel agents, pre-bookings are 30 to 40 per cent higher than last year, prices, however, had remained the same.

Within the GCC, several new Ramadan and Eid packages have been launched in Saudi Arabia and Oman. Agents recommend that residents, especially those with confirmed travel plans, book their tickets as soon as possible, as airfares are expected to rise sharply in the coming weeks.

“The booking trend is being seen for countries in the Far East sectors,” said Surendranath Menon, Director at Equator Travels. “Holiday destinations like Bali, Thailand, and Singapore are quite popular among UAE residents and Eastern European nations.”

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Rashid Abbas, Managing Director of Arooha Travels, “We have blocked 230 seats to the popular Eastern European destination, and forward bookings look encouraging. Also, the UK is slowly becoming another popular choice among travellers.”

Waiting time for Schengen visas

Menon said the long wait time for Schengen visa appointments is deterring travellers from booking packages to European destinations. “Those who want to travel to Europe over the summer must apply immediately in order to get a visa appointment and avoid rejections,” explained Menon.

A spokesperson for VFS Global told Gulf News, “We continuously urge all travellers to apply for their visas well in advance to avoid any delays. Schengen countries accept documents up to six months before the travel date.”

Residents seek better deals

With a background of global economic uncertainty, budgets will be critical in 2023. But despite the upheaval, new research from travel aggregator has said travellers are searching for better deals. Nearly seven in ten (68 per cent) of travellers will continue to prioritise their vacations but will be seeking more bang for their buck, with more than half (53 per cent) planning to be even thriftier than in the past on their travels. Globally, over three in five (63 per cent) are set to plan their travel budget more tightly and take advantage of deals, hacks and smartly-timed travel.

Travellers are seeking better deals, and that’s why the more affordable Eastern European travel packages remain in demand. Eid packages to Georgia, for example, is Dh3,300. However, if necessary, group fares can be purchased for Dh2,800 to Dh3,000 per person.

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Abbas said, “Compared to Eid last year, there is a 30 to 40 per cent increase in seat allocation. This means travel demand is very high. And there are no more Covid restrictions, so people are more encouraged to travel.”

Travel to Saudi Arabia

Global travel marketplace Skyscanner said travel demand to Saudi Arabia during the Holy month of Ramadan and ahead of Eid is robust. According to Ayoub El Mamoun, Skyscanner Travel Expert, Saturday, March 18 is the most popular departure date, with 38 per cent of travellers aiming to travel to Saudi, whilst over 92 per cent of travellers are seeking to travel to Saudi during the week of March 20, making the start of Ramadan the most popular travel time.

And over 70 per cent of travellers are looking for trips between one-two week long. El Mamoun said, “Travel remains a key priority, with many travellers across the GCC, such as the UAE and Saudi, planning the same or more trips in 2023 than they did the year previously.”

Best deals availed if purchased early
Travel companies also urge UAE expatriates to pre-book their travels for special pricing offers.

Travel agencies are offering packages for Dh 2,899 to Baku (per person on a double sharing basis) and Tsiblisi, Georgia, packages are going for Dh2,799 – Azerbijan and Pattaya packages are going for Dh3150 and Zanzibar packages are being sold for Dh 3,999. Packages to Israel are going for Dh5,799.

Limited period flash deals for Dh1,399 to Armenia and Maldives deals for Dh1,799. Georgia deals are going for Dh1,999, and Baku travel packages are priced at Dh2,899.