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Taking flight

Taking flight

Travel agency says an increasing number of people are leaving the country during summer.

August 20, 2008 10:41 by

Outbound travel from the UAE surged 20 per cent this summer compared to the same period last year, according to Sharjah National Travel and Tourist Agency, reports Khaleej Times.

The agency says that the most popular destinations were Malaysia and Thailand in the Far East, and the United Kingdom, France and Germany in Europe. Costs, security and availability of halal meals, decided the choice of destinations, it adds.

With inflation in the UAE rising rapidly, why the increasing number of holiday- goers?

According to recent reports, the population of the UAE has reached around 5.6 million, and is growing at a rate of more than 4 percent annually. Out of that, 80-85 percent are expatriates. A growing expat population would mean more people flying back home for the holidays.

Also, the number of low-cost carriers in the region has increased substantially. Air Arabia, the first low-cost airline in the Gulf, started regional operations in 2003, and has since expanded to include more than 40 destinations worldwide. The airline, which made a profit of around $43m for the first half of 2008, also added four new routes this year.

Two years after Air Arabia came the Kuwait- based Jazeera Airways, followed by two Saudi Arabian airlines – Nas Air and Sama Airlines – and most recently, Bahrain Air.
Emirates Airlines’ own low-cost, Fly Dubai, is all set to start operations next year.

There is an availability of better deals. Malaysia is celebrating 50 years of nationhood this year and has been strongly promoting its tourism. Along with good offers, the availability of Halal food in the predominantly Muslim state could be helping to pull visitors from the UAE.

According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, in spite of global economy worries, international tourist arrivals around the world grew at around 5 percent between January and April this year, compared to the same period in 2007. Growth was fastest in the Middle East, North-East and South Asia, and Central and South America.

What do you think are the reasons for the rising number of travelers from the UAE? Is it related to money, or the need to get away from the sun and the cranes?

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  1. boy adnani on August 21, 2008 9:15 am

    y question is confusing…..

    u say the rising number of travelers from the uae? is it related to money.

    answer…. if its related to money why will they leave dubai.

    going on a holiday is coz of summer holidays and i hope u know dubai has 85 % of expatriate , so annual leave and so on.

  2. Kevin on August 21, 2008 8:13 pm

    Errrm… indeed. Perhaps a bit of lucidity now?

    My humble theory is that firstly, the increase in low-cost carriers has made outbound travel more feasible for those who previously may not have been able to afford it.
    Secondly, as the UAE’s cities become increasingly crowded; hectic and expensive with each passing year, more people may be joining the annual exodus to seek respite from these daily pressures- call it a “mental health break”; a “change of scenery” – or whatever you wish.
    Third, I speculate that many are beginning to consider “hitting the eject button” and may be using the holiday as an opportunity to “scope out the situation back home” with a view to perhaps returning home.
    Next, the prospect of having to spend 3 summer months mindlessly traipsing through malls; watching endless movies or frequenting restaurant after restaurant, is not too appealing. Worse for the children, as to do something reasonably simple, such as watching a dolphin show, is going to set you back a couple of hundred unless you manage to snap up the cheap seats. (versus my country, where it costs the price of a cheap hamburger). Contrast this, with possibilities in the home countries of many expats, where, unless it is equally hot in summer, one is still able to enjoy outdoor activities to a degree, or visit old hometown friends. In addition, you do not necessarily need to be forking out cash for every little thing to keep entertained – nice for a change.

    Finally, as you allude to, another factor may be an increasing awareness of value-for-money destinations – Thailand being an example.

    And that concludes my riveting, concise, monologue.
    Thank you.
    Ostes Khawaga (Hina min tissa seneen)


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