Dubai: You don’t have to go far or break the bank to get a break from the daily grind.
As residents find more things to see and do in the UAE, so-called staycations are becoming popular here, travel agents and analysts say.
“The staycations trend is definitely getting stronger year-on-year in the UAE,” said Cristina Polo, general manager at consultancy Insights Middle East. “There are more options available. From the ‘shopping destination’, the UAE has diversified its offerings and the options here are wider for all kinds of tourists.”
Premjit Bangara, general manager-travel at Sharaf Travel, agreed. “Consumers are opting for local staycations this summer primarily because they see a lot of exciting offers from quality resorts and hotels and want to sample these varied offers.”
Staycations are likely to grow by 15-20 per cent in the UAE this year over 2015, said Kulwant Singh, managing director of Lama Tours. Polo, however, expects an 8-10 per cent increase this year.
As new hotels, shopping centres and theme parks open in the country, staycations are anticipated to become more appealing in the coming years.
“All attractions developed in view of the Expo 2020 will contribute to the trend in the coming years. Hotels are contributing to the success by adapting offers to the trend,” Polo said.
The growing number of activities and attractions available here is only one reason for the rise in staycations. Another reason is the lower cost of staycations.
“People are more cautious everywhere considering the economic situation. Staycations allow travellers to focus expenditure on the stay versus the journey,” Polo said.
Karan Anand, head of relationships at Cox & Kings, says that UAE residents “like to take more than one holiday per year and staycations provide them the opportunity to experience nearby emirates at a reasonable price.”
The average cost of a 10-day staycation in Dubai at a 4-star property would be around Dh9,000 per person, inclusive of breakfast and taxes, Sharaf Travel’s Bangara said. “These prices would be less for lower category of hotels depending on dates and availability of inventory.”
Anand said that on average staycations cost 20 per cent less compared to an overseas trip for the same period.
“When you travel overseas, there is the cost of visas and air fares, which is not the case with a staycation,” he added.
The concept of a staycation is new to the UAE, Anand said. But according to Singh, with the growth in this segment, the UAE will not be far behind international markets.
“The concept in international markets has been there for many years. We are a new destination, but we are catching up fast,” he added.
Dubai is the most popular emirate for staycations, followed by Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, according to travel agents.
“Most of the emirates have something or the other to offer to weekend visitors. Abu Dhabi has done extremely well when it comes to staycations, [including] the development of Yas Island, Sir Bani Yas, and Saadiyat, which have attracted a lot of resident visitors. Ras Al Khaimah has opened a lot of holiday resorts, which have been attracting a lot of weekend visitors too,” Singh said.