SOJERN: Airlines across the ME and Africa (MEA) are beginning to expand their flight networks and in some cases, open for service for the first time in months. Saudi Arabia partially lifted its suspension on international flights from the Sept 15 and the kingdom will end all restrictions on air, land and sea transport for Saudi citizens “after Jan 1 2021”, with dates to be announced in Dec.
It has also been announced that a total of 43 countries will be granted permission to enter Jordan for tourism. These countries will be classified into three categories (red, yellow and green) with varying restrictions. Although travel is opening up across the region, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has issued an updated list of fines for offenders of Covid-19 safety measures, having reported its highest daily rise in infections in September.
Although travel restrictions continue to be relaxed, domestic travel remains more popular than international travel, and this is displayed in the latest search and booking trends. One recent announcement which will likely positively impact domestic travel is the announcement made by the Dubai government in September. They will be offering a retirement programme that offers resident expatriates and foreigners the chance to retire in the emirate. The “Retire in Dubai” scheme will allow eligible residents aged 55 and over to apply for a retirement visa that would be renewable every five years. The increase in retired expatriates will provide a larger pool of people with time on their hands to explore the local areas.
As we now head into the peak season of travel in the UAE, we continue to see a strong trend towards domestic searches and bookings, leading the way with an uplift of 101% year-over-year (YoY) on searches and 21% YoY on bookings from the week commencing from September 28.
We also see an upward trend in international traveller intent and confidence in the UAE, with searches and bookings showing an upward tick standing at -51% and -69% YoY respectively, as cases continue to remain comparatively lower compared to what can be observed in other parts of the globe.