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Fully-vaccinated passengers coming to the UAE now only need to show an approved vaccination certificate with a readable QR code Image Credit: Pixabay

Dubai: UAE residents and entrepreneurs welcomed the government’s decision to do away with the PCR test requirement for fully-vaccinated passengers coming to the country from Saturday.

They said the move will add simplicity and ease to inbound travel. It is also a bold step to boost business and would fast track the return to normalcy, they added.

Fully-vaccinated passengers coming to the UAE will only need to show an approved vaccination certificate with a readable QR code. The Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management in Dubai meanwhile announced that wearing of face masks is now optional in open spaces, while it remains mandatory in public indoor spaces, in line with the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority’s (NCEMA) announcement on updates to COVID-19 precautionary measures in the UAE.

The announcement follows a steady recent decline in COVID-19 cases in the UAE.

Ease in travel

Travel industry experts welcomed the move to remove the rapid PCR tests at departing airports in various countries. Geoffrey Salatan, manager, Sales and Client Relations at Airlink International, said: “The scrapping of PCR test for inbound traveller is indeed good news, not only for passengers but also for the travel and airline industry.”

Geoffrey Salatan

He added: “This is another proactive move from the UAE government. Psychologically and financially, this will ease the burden of travellers coming to the country. Imagine the amount of time and money they would save because the UAE has made it easier for them to travel. This is a strategic move that will definitely increase the volume of inbound passengers which is beneficial to every industry.”

‘Happy days’

Residents can also now travel to the UAE without getting a pre-approval from General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) Dubai or the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICA).

Reena Singh

Indian expat Reena Singh said “pre-pandemic happy days will be back again”. She told Gulf News: “The UAE government made an exceptional decision to help unite expat families. It is now easier for residents to start again inviting friends and family to UAE as the country is truly a buzzing place for happy travellers.”

Danish Sheikh

Pakistani national Danish Sheikh, who recently got married, said: “Now is the best time for me to invite my family and friends to come over the UAE. Most of them are fully-vaccinate and they can at least have enough time to catch the [last] month of Expo 2020 Dubai [in March].”

Boost to business

Abu Dhabi-based entrepreneur Rolly Brucales, managing partner of Off The Hook (OTH), said the recent announcement is “a bold move to boost business in the UAE. It will encourage more tourists to visit the UAE because of the minimal travel protocols and this means great news to business as public confidence is now becoming really high”.

Rolly Brucales

He added: “I believe what the UAE is doing is very strategic as it will lead to sustainable recovery while ensuring that the public is observing minimum health protocols for the safety of everyone. I’m confident what we will have a complete return to normality very soon.”

Uptick in passenger queries

Anil Punjabi, Chairman of Eastern Region at Travel Agents Federation of India, said: “This is a very welcome decision and this could not have come at a more opportune moment. The travel and tourism industry in India and all over the world stands to benefit from this.”

Anil Punjabi

Speaking to Gulf News in Kolkata on Saturday, Punjabi said: “UAE’s decision to scrap PCR test requirements for fully-vaccinated passengers goes to show that the confidence level is gradually rising and we are well on track to return to normality soon. Since this announcement came on Friday, we have already noticed an uptick in passenger queries about flights from India to UAE.”

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India-UAE regular flights?

Commenting on the possibility of resumption of regular commercial flights between India and the UAE, Punjabi added: “With this latest decision to scrap PCR tests, I think we have taken a step in that direction [resumption of regular commercial flights]. So far as India is concerned, travel agencies have already started receiving some feelers from the civil aviation authorities here about the possibility of resumption of regular flights. We are quite hopeful that regular flights may resume around March 15.”

— With inputs from Sanjib Kumar Das, Assistant Editor