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India-UAE travel set for take-off after tourist visa announcement

India-UAE travel set for take-off after tourist visa announcement

Travel from India to the UAE is expected to take off in a big way after the announcement by the Gulf country to open tourist visa applications for fully inoculated travellers, according to industry executives. Aside from boosting the spirits of cricket fans across the South Asian country, the announcement by the UAE authorities is

Travel from India to the UAE is expected to take off in a big way after the announcement by the Gulf country to open tourist visa applications for fully inoculated travellers, according to industry executives.

Aside from boosting the spirits of cricket fans across the South Asian country, the announcement by the UAE authorities is also expected to lead the UAE travel market recovery to reach north of 60 percent of pre-pandemic levels, fuelled by the Expo 2020, Indian Premier League (IPL) and T-20 World Cup.

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) announced on Sunday that the UAE is to open tourist visa applications for people from all countries, as long as they have been fully inoculated by one of the World Health Organisation (WHO)-approved Covid-19 vaccines.

UAE travel rates on the rise with short-haul flights popular this summer

Travel rates see a slight uptick in the region, but numbers continue to pale in comparison to summers past

Online travel aggregators such as Cleartrip have reported a 19 percent jump in bookings to the UAE and a 32 percent jump in website traffic following the announcement.

“The biggest winners are Emirates and Indian carriers IndiGo and Air India Express as people research their options following the latest news,” Atish Thapa, business head – Middle East at Cleartrip, told Arabian Business.

“Our website traffic has grown by 32 percent, particularly to our TravelSafe page, where travellers can get all related information,” Thapa said.

Thapa, however, said unlike other times, the air fares have not surged, and are maintained at the same levels as before the announcement.

“So we expect more travel going forward,” said the senior executive of Cleartrip, which has a major presence in the Middle East and India.

Biggest winners are Emirates and Indian carriers IndiGo and Air India Express as people research their options following the latest news.

Tour and travel firms’ executives in India also said there has been a surge in enquiries on travel to the UAE, although airlines are yet to announce their plans on opening of bookings for fully-jabbed tourist visa holders.

“We are getting lots of enquiries [on travel to the UAE on tourist visas] but airlines are not confirming anything yet on this,” Bhushan Kamble, regional manager – sales at Mumbai-based Akbar Travels, told Arabian Business.

MakeMyTrip (MMT), India’s leading online travel company said, in the coming weeks and months, it expected travel to pick-up exponentially around the IPL season and six-month international Expo 2020 Dubai.

“IPL is one of the biggest sports festivals for cricket lovers, especially in the subcontinent. As the countdown to IPL begins, cricket lovers will be seen travelling to the UAE to root for their favourite teams from the stands,” Rajesh Magow, co-founder and group chief executive officer of MakeMyTrip, told Arabian Business recently.

Rajesh Magow, co-founder and group chief executive officer of MakeMyTrip.

“Many [travellers from India] will club their visit with a short vacation to some of the popular tourist hotspots in Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Ajman, Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi,” Magow said.

Magow added that as international travel restrictions begin easing between India and the GCC, homebound Indian travellers will be the first to return to base followed by business and leisure travellers.

MakeMyTrip had partnered with three teams, including Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK), in the previous season.

The UAE is scheduled to witness some of the biggest global trade and sporting events in the coming months, with the reminder of the 2021 IPL matches beginning in Dubai on September 19, while the Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off in less than 31 days and the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup starts from October 17.

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