Thailand, India, Sri Lanka popular Eid destinations

Residents opt for distant places to celebrate the festival with Malaysia and Thailand on top choices; no buyers for neighbouring places

This Eid, residents in the Capital are opting to travel far rather than staying in or heading for neighbourhood areas, as per a random check with some of the leading travel agencies. “We don’t have many domestic bookings, (nor do we have any) for Muscat and Salalah,” said Mary Thomas, managing director of Bin Moosa Travel. “We don’t experience the rush there used to be (for these places) anymore.”

Abdul Hakim Azeez, business development manager at Sama International Holidays, has also found that holiday bookings to Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Salalah have dipped. In Asia, Thailand and Malaysia remain at the top of the list. However, India and Sri Lanka are also getting some interest this year, particularly among the UAE nationals.

Thomas said mountainous areas, beaches and the backwaters in these countries are proving to be an attraction for the residents here. Mohammed Abdulla Al Fahim, general manager for products and services at Al Fahim Group, whose company Safar Travel and Tourism has a substantial stake in the Capital’s travel trade, told Khaleej Times that he saw considerable surge in bookings for holiday packages this year, compared to last year, showing “strong paying capacity” of the residents.

In Europe, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy are the sought-after destinations with stays going up to three weeks. “People booked in advance to go to Germany and Austria. There’s a lot of requirement for properties in Germany and Austria. All are sold out for August because of the Music Festival in Salzburg,” explained Azeez. There is also a good traffic to the US, particularly to Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.

Azeez attributed this to the increased frequency and opening of new flights by Etihad and Emirates Airlines, as well as the facility at the Abu Dhabi International Airport where passengers to some US destinations are pre-cleared for customs. “There are more travellers this year, maybe because of the longer holiday and because the schools are closed. They waited for Ramadan to finish so they could get more holidays,” Thomas said.

Hotspots

Fahim said for Emiratis, the favourite destination this season is Thailand. However, expatriate tourists purchased packages for serene, majestic and economically affordable tourist hideouts like Sri Lanka and Maldives. Other popular places, he said, are in Europe.

Tourists are also heading to Goa and Sharm-El Sheikh and Hurghada in Egypt, where the security situation has returned to normal in the recent months after the presidential elections.

Shorter breaks

Shorter breaks of four to five nights are popular for island holidays in the Maldives and Seychelles, particularly for those who couldn’t take a longer break this Eid. “The problem is the people deciding at the last minute,” said Ahmed Bassoun, manager of Golden Gate Travel and Holidays.

“This time almost all flights are fully booked.” Among those places travellers are undecided about are Thailand, despite its popularity, and the UK, probably because of the incident in a London hotel where Emirati guests were attacked with a hammer by a burglar. Thomas said the rush a few days before the start of the Eid is common. Air fares have gone up, which travel experts said, “are normal”. Rizwan Butt, a Dubai-based biker, who organised a charity bike ride across Sri Lanka during the holidays, said he paid almost 10 per cent more than the normal fares to book tickets for his group comprising 26 riders. But the situation on other international routes is even worse. Egyptian Abdul Fateh Muntasir said fares have gone up by 40 per cent, this Eid, which, he said, is more than his paying capacity, so he has postponed his travel plans. Pakistani Zubair Mir, who plans to be with his family back home on Eid, said he paid 25 per cent extra to book tickets on Abu Dhabi-Islamabad route. — news@khaleejtimes.com

Source: http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/thailand-india-sri-lanka-popular-eid-destinations

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