Maldives, Mauritius, Dubai among top destinations booked for Eid al-Fitr in GCC

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The Maldives, Mauritius, Dubai, Bangkok, Cairo, Paris, and London are the top travel destinations booked by Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) residents for Eid al-Fitr this year, according to travel agencies.

“Eid holiday is a popular time to travel for UAE nationals and residents. Many people start planning their trip and looking for getaway deals during the second week of Ramadan. Thankfully, the pandemic is not the same disease as it was last year and the year before,” Saleem Sharif, Deputy Managing Director of United Arab Emirates-based travel agency ATS Travel, told Al Arabiya English.

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Sharif added that the subsiding effects of the pandemic have led to a “considerable increase” in flight bookings during this period, with the average Eid holiday duration being four to five days.

London, Switzerland, Paris and various US cities were among the top destinations booked through ATS for Eid this year by Saudi and UAE nationals.

Emirates, Dubai-based airline, told Al Arabiya English in an email that most of its Saudi-based customers will be venturing to Dubai, the Maldives, Paris, Bangkok, Mauritius, Manila and Los Angeles for the Eid holiday.

Eiffel tower, Paris, France. (Unsplash, Denys Nevozhai)
Eiffel tower, Paris, France. (Unsplash, Denys Nevozhai)

Popular destinations for Kuwaiti travelers booked via Emirates this year also include Dubai, the Maldives, Manila, Bangkok, London, Mauritius and Paris. To cater to this uptick in travel demand, Emirates said it will be operating eight additional flights served by its Boeing 777 during Eid.

The most popular destinations for UAE travelers via Emirates during this period include London, Istanbul, Manila, Cairo, Paris, Casablanca, New York and Los Angeles.

“These destinations have been the top destinations for travel pre and during the pandemic, and we are seeing a further surge in demand due to the relaxation of travel restrictions,” Emirates said in an email.

“All of the destinations have long been top destinations for travel [in the region] but the pandemic has definitely increased the potential for the Maldives and Mauritius, among our other Indian Ocean destinations. Also, Thailand is a new destination for Saudi Arabia with the easing of restrictions to travel there,” the Dubai-based carrier added.

Water villas at The Westin Maldives Miriyandhoo Resort. (Unsplash, Ahmed Yaaniu)
Water villas at The Westin Maldives Miriyandhoo Resort. (Unsplash, Ahmed Yaaniu)

SAUDIA Airlines, the Kingdom’s national carrier which serves over 50 international airports and operates more than 8,000 flights, said that the top three international flight routes during this period are: Cairo to Jeddah, Dubai to Jeddah, and Dubai to Riyadh.

“There’s definitely a positive change in the demand and there are new trends shaping up the post-pandemic world for the travel sector,” said Sharif. “The Indian Ocean Islands were among the first destinations to open their doors for tourism after the lockdown. This, in addition to other factors like air connectivity helped keep these destinations quite popular.”

Echoing his sentiment, Emirates said, “We have seen a major step-up of demand across GCC markets, which were largely closed until late last year, as many travelers are considering travel again due to the relaxation in [COVID-19] restrictions in the GCC and abroad.”

AlUla, an ancient Saudi Arabian city that dates back to over 200 thousand years of unexplored history, is emerging as one of the region’s new up-and-coming destinations, attracting travelers from all over the world. After officially opening up to the world last year, it has since expanded its flight services, operating flights from various airlines in Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s budget airlines FlyDubai.

Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla and Saudia airline will launch the ‘Sky Museum’ flight from Riyadh to AlUla, the world’s first flying museum. (Supplied)
Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla and Saudia airline will launch the ‘Sky Museum’ flight from Riyadh to AlUla, the world’s first flying museum. (Supplied)

“New destinations are becoming popular for luxury adventure and customized tourism such as Uganda and AlUla in Saudi Arabia, among other destinations,” Sharif said.

Home to UNESCO World Heritage site Hegra, AlUla is hosting special packages for Eid this year, alongside its many other travel packages which include luxury resort experiences and tours through its Old Town and historical heritage sites.

“Mauritius is also considered by many a good choice for an affordable luxury tourism. Zanzibar, Georgia, and Jordan are popular destinations for affordable travel packages and more of a relaxing travel experience,” Sharif added.

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