An image that will have UAE residents thinking of summer breaks far away from the throngs. Seychelles is closing in on Maldives as the top destination for UAE travellers. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Away from the crowds – that’s what UAE nationals deciding on a holiday destination prefer these days. Or at least 48 per cent of those who took part in a recent survey.

“We predict getaways in the mountains, countryside or secluded beach resorts will be the most popular travel trends from the UAE,” said Rehab Mansoor, General Manager at Rehlaty, a unit of dnata Travel. That’s “in addition to destinations that have imposed enhanced health and safety measures to offer added peace of mind.”

Rehab Mansoor
Rehab Mansoor, General Manager at Rehlaty Image Credit: Supplied

No wonder then going by recent trends, the Maldives figured as the top getaway for Emiratis taking a break in 2020, even with the pandemic forcing major alterations to travel schedules. This year, another island destination, the Seychelles, is giving Maldives a tough fight when it comes to preferences.

“The Seychelles has always proved a popular destination for UAE nationals alongside the Indian Ocean islands of the Maldives and Mauritius,” said Mansoor. “We predict the trend of Maldives travel as a popular holiday option will continue on throughout 2021 and beyond as it becomes even more family-friendly with new resort and facility enhancements and openings.”

Special treats
Emirates airline is offering special rates to fly to Maldives during the Eid holidays. Fares start from Dh3,495 in Economy and Dh8,555 for Business.

The offer is valid for bookings starting today until April 25 for travel until July 31. Travellers can also plan a Maldivian getaway with Emirates Holidays, starting from Dh4,389 per person for a three-night stay package at a four-star hotel.

Emirates currently offers 28 weekly flights to the Maldives. "Maldives has become an incredibly popular destination among for UAE travelers for a weekend break or extended holiday with short flight timings, idyllic weather, crystal blue waters and pristine beaches," said the airline in a statement.

Regional options

It’s not just exotic tropical islands that are sought after. Morocco is also quickly emerging as a favorite for UAE’s travel-savvy population. “We have seen bookings to Morocco, with travel itineraries covering the vibrant cities of Marrakesh and Casablanca, and incredible Chefchaouen, famous for the striking, blue-washed buildings of its old town,” said Mansoor.

Rehlaty has seen a surge in enquiries for summer travel, with customers particularly interested in travel updates for Bali, Thailand, and Greece.

Staycations not going away

Meanwhile, staycations continued to be amongst the top choices for UAE residents. As per Rehlaty’s 2020 travel intent survey, 57 per cent of UAE nationals wanted to experience more of staycations in the UAE this year as well.

“Customers have looked to experience more across the Emirates than ever before, including the incredible, luxurious 5-star resorts that offer private pool villas of Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah in particular,” said Mansoor.

Opening up

“In terms of the opening of destinations, we are guided by the respective governments and flight availability,” said Mansoor. As travellers continue to expect enhanced cleaning protocols, safety precautions, flexible cancellation options and timely travel updates, technology is playing a crucial role.

“The UAE national community refers to us online for travel restriction enquiries and future travel inspiration - today, 90 per cent of our bookings are generated on social media,” said Mansoor. “As a result, we have a much closer view of what customers like or want because we monitor shares and mentions.”