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DUBAI: The large majority of UAE residents plan their holiday on their own, rather than opting for packaged deals, according to travel consultants, holiday home providers and online ticket portals.

Athul Hari, travel manager at Dadabhai Travels, said there are way more people buying a single product than a full package.

“They come in to book flights, get help with visas, or zero in on hotels, but hardly a few want a complete package,” he said.

Hari said DIY holidays may seem like an exciting idea but should something go wrong, the trip could become a nightmare. “One ends up spending more to fix things and revise arrangements,” he added.

According to Cozmo Travel, UAE-based holiday seller, it is becoming increasingly difficult to sell a complete package. “Solo, group or budget travellers aged 20 to 35 never go for packages. But this year, even others are planning their own holidays with very little help,” said a spokesperson.

Muhammad Chbib, founder and CEO of online travel platform Tajawal, said, “Since last year, we’ve witnessed a 101 per cent increase in online travel bookings for various products. It clearly reflects growing consumer interest in online travel experiences.”


Residents whom XPRESS spoke to said package deals often fall short of expectations and can be overpriced too.

South African expat Marcia Johnson, who recently travelled to Prague on a package deal, said her experience was awful. “Firstly they changed my hotel in Prague and informed me about it only two hours before the flight took off. The changed hotel was an hour’s drive from the city centre. It’s dishonest to change the itinerary and other arrangements in the last minute. Now I believe it’s wiser to plan a trip by myself. It’s easy enough to find good deals on flights and accommodations,” said the 32-year-old.

An Indian couple who take an annual holiday every year believe DIY deals are much cheaper. “My husband and I travel to a new country at least twice a year. When we went to Switzerland in December last year, we booked our tickets and made all the arrangements by ourselves. We found it is far more flexible than a package tour. We even took an impromptu train trip to Germany for a day. Our trip cost us Dh18,000 for nine days, whereas a travel agency had given us a quote for Dh25,000,” said Priyanka Kurapati, 30.

The couple is currently planning their next getaway to Singapore.

Airbnb rush

Another major indicator of the rising popularity of DIY travel plans is the rush for Airbnb accommodations, with the US and UK being the top destinations. Hadi Moussa, Airbnb’s general manager for Middle East and Africa, said, “There has been a clear switch in the way people in the UAE plan holidays.

Travellers now want to enjoy authentic, local experiences - whether it’s trying the local food, discovering a secret shop or exploring a new neighbourhood. Families increasingly want to find a home which is affordable and offers plenty of space, so everyone from grandparents to children can enjoy time together.”