UAE residents who ended up putting their travel plans on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic this year are now looking forward to making holiday plans to international destinations in 2021, new research has revealed.
Conducted by Hilton and YouGov, the survey revealed that 51 per cent of UAE residents, including UAE nationals, are planning to take three or more holidays next year if global travel advice allows.
“Whilst travel restrictions implemented in the wake of Covid-19 have impacted international trips this year, we have seen soaring demand for UAE staycations and shorter breaks closer to home. As people begin to feel comfortable to travel further afield again, and as restrictions lift, we foresee people resuming trips they had to postpone, reconnecting with family abroad or perhaps booking that once in a lifetime vacation they have been dreaming about this year,” said Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, president for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey at Hilton.
In terms of the top holiday destinations, 34 per cent of respondents said that they will travel to their home country, followed 26 per cent of respondents who said that they were favouring mainland Europe. Among UAE nationals, mainland Europe was also the leading destination preference, followed by the Far East.
The survey also shed light on how future holidaying priorities have been affected by the pandemic, particularly when it comes to the type of holiday people are seeking. It was found that 65 per cent of respondents had changed their priorities for leisure travel, with 34 per cent now looking for experiences that focus on wellness. Next came in holidays that provide opportunities for nature exploration and adventure (16 per cent), followed by resort-type experiences (15 per cent).
Several organisations have noted the increased willingness to travel among residents, as well as the increased focus on safety and security. Towards that end, Emirates airline recently announced its expanded, multi-risk travel cover on top of its current Covid-19 cover.
“We see a strong appetite for travel around the world, especially heading into the winter holidays as people seek warmer climates and family destinations like Dubai. By launching this new multi-risk travel insurance and Covid-19 cover, we aim to give our customers even more confidence in making their travel plans this winter and moving into 2021,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Emirates airline and Chief Executive of the Emirates Group.
Offered by Emirates at no additional cost to its customers and provided by AIG Travel, the cover is the first of its kind in the airline and travel insurance industry. The new multi-risk travel insurance and Covid-19 cover will automatically apply to all Emirates tickets purchased from December 1, and extends to Emirates codeshare flights operated by partner airlines, as long as the ticket number starts with 176.
“Emirates was the first airline to offer complimentary global Covid-19 cover for travellers back in July, and the response from our customers has been tremendously encouraging,” Sheikh Ahmed said.
“We’ve not rested on our laurels and instead continued to look at how we can offer our customers an even better proposition. We’re very pleased to be able to now provide this new multi-risk travel insurance and Covid-19 cover, which is another industry first, to all our customers.”
Hyped to go
The research identified ‘missed holidays due to the pandemic’ and a desire to ‘revisit treasured destinations with their families’ as the main reasons for wanting to travel. More than 90 per cent of the respondents said that they had at least one overseas holiday cancelled this year, with close to half cancelling a holiday within the Middle East and North Africa region.
The study results also showed that 80 per cent of residents said that the ‘chance to create new memories’ was the aspect of travel they yearned for the most, and that some of their best memories were made from going away on holiday.