Europe is a popular destination for GCC travellers, says Nasir Jamal Khan, CEO, Al Naboodah Travel.
What are the latest summer trends?
There is a rise in cruise bookings; travellers are eager to visit Europe during the summer. A predicted surge in travel is recorded despite a 57 per cent increase in the region’s average flight cost due to rising fuel costs and high travel demand. Tourists from the UAE are likely to spend more time than usual at the destination. As experts say, there is pent-up demand among travellers keen to make up for lost time due to two years of restrictions.
Which destinations are popular among GCC travellers?
Destinations with visa-free entry and short-haul flights with economical flight costs, along with COVID-free regulations, seem to be some of the preferences. Travellers are looking for flexibility to change and packages that offer value for money. Switzerland, Ireland, Georgia, Egypt, Turkey, Germany, France, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, the USA, Thailand, and Indonesia are a few of the names of the destinations which are more in demand and corporates as well as individual leisure travellers are inquiring at present.
How will this summer be different from others?
Travellers are eager to resume large bucket trips with their friends and family after a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Relaxation of the current COVID-19 restrictions has boosted people’s travel confidence once again. However, spending power is limited for some travellers, which is why it is causing them to select short-haul destinations with a smaller number of overnight stays. Nevertheless, travel demand is high this summer as it was followed by the Eid break.In terms of overnight stays, the average duration varies between 5 and 10 days.
Are travellers looking for luxury or semi-luxury travel and accommodation?
The majority of GCC nationals travel with their families and will look for luxury travel packages. At the same time, there is a lot of demand for semi-luxury packages from GCC residents. Some travelers’ spending power is much greater in the GCC region.
As a travel consultant, how has your role changed, especially since COVID-19?
The travel agent role is important, especially in the current phase of the pandemic, as many clients are more dependent on travel agents as compared to online travel portals to get accurate information related to travel restrictions, destination information, airline guidelines, etc. Real-time information is something travellers are depending on, so they select travel agents who are able to keep them updated as and when there are updates.
What do you think about visa on arrival or e-visa becoming a key element for travel? Are there any benefits for travellers?
Currently, in Dubai, we are having a tough time with Schengen visa appointments as demand is high. The countries that introduced the e-visa system are gaining a significant market share compared to the countries where clients need to undergo the visa process. Clients can decide at the last minute of their travel with the on-arrival or e-visa system. Another key fact that has become more important is travel insurance. Travel insurance is currently making a huge impact on travel. Ninety-seven per cent of the clients are travelling with travel insurance.