The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has left many UAE residents questioning how to plan summer vacations this year as travel has become more complicated.
Travel bans, entry restrictions, and new laws and regulations to help prevent the spread of COVID19 mean that taking a holiday now requires meticulous planning and holds considerable risk. But the stress of the pandemic has also left many wanting to relax in the summertime sun, while others might want to spend much-needed time with their families after strenuous lockdown measures.
Here are some tips for UAE residents planning to travel this August.
Where can I travel to within the UAE?
Due to restrictions and regulations on international travel, a “staycation” or domestic holiday within the UAE may be the best option for many residents.
According to Travel Counsellors, staycations are rising in popularity within the UAE this summer.
For many residents who live in the busy cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s less urbanized northern emirates can be popular destinations.
“Family friendly resorts in Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, and Sharjah’s Kingfisher Lodge resort packages are in demand this summer” said travel expert, Adele Engelbrecht from Travel Counsellors.
“Interest in domestic hotels continues to be growing strongly and is currently exceeding 2019 levels at 58.3 percent, helped by both easing of restriction domestically, the lack of safe outbound alternatives and the EU closing its borders” published the WeGo travel site.
Zaya Nurai Island, Abu Dhabi
The five-star resort, a boat ride from Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island is an ideal staycation location for UAE residents who wish to experience a Maldivian getaway closer to home. The island hospitality accommodates families of all sizes, with entertainment activities for all ages.
Address Hotels, Dubai
Located on the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd, the luxury chain of hotels and resorts offers guests the opportunity to enjoy pristine dining, poolside “daycations,” and state-of-the-art wellness facilities this August. The Address Boulevard, Address Dubai Mall, and Address Downtown are the ideal staycation spots, as they ensuring that guests have access to all downtown entertainment features.
“There has been a recent increase in occupancy, 99 percent of which is local demand. The increase in bookings this Eid is mainly seen in the Address Downtown, the Address Boulevard, and the Address Dubai Mall” added an Address Hotels Reservations representative.
To ensure the safety of guests and staff, all employees at staycation destinations must undergo mandatory screening as per the regulations set in place by the UAE National Emergency and Crisis Management Authority.
How to prepare for international travel from the UAE
For the more daring and adventurous residents, traveling abroad is now possible, as countries begin to reopen borders and ease restrictions.
Requirements include applying for a return permit that must be approved by General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) prior to departure, along with conducting a COVID19 pre-examination prior to return into the UAE.
UAE residents flying to the United Kingdom or countries of the European Union from August 1 must take a COVID-19 PCR test before they leave the country, officials from Emirates and Abu Dhabi Health Services (SEHA) confirmed this week.
Upon return, all passengers traveling to Dubai, including passengers connecting in Dubai, must have a negative COVID-19 test certificate, according to the latest guidelines issued by Emirates airlines.
However, passengers from a set of 29 countries will also be obligated to take a second test on arrival. This is in contrast to other passengers, who according to Emirates can just show their negative test on arrival.
Popular destinations from the UAE: The Maldives, Seychelles, Sri Lanka
Traveler Counsellors representatives have seen a rise in bookings to the crystal shores of the Maldives, which reopened its borders to tourists on July 15.
Adele Engelbrecht notes that other popular destinations are Sri Lanka, which has yet to announce the reopening of Colombo Airport, and the Seychelles, which is expected to reopen its borders for tourism on August 1.
“Emirates announces the resumption of weekly five times passenger service to Seychelles from 1 August, coinciding with the country’s re-opening to international tourists,” the airline tweeted.
Measures to expect upon arrival
Tourists planning trips to Seychelles and Sri Lanka, must present proof of a negative COVID19 test, which has been obtained 48 hours prior to departure date.
All travelers departing to the abovementioned destinations will however have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, which may disrupt vacation plans.
For those traveling to the Maldives, the government of the Maldives has exempted tourists from the mandatory 14-day quarantine applicable to residents and returnees. However, all travelers to the Maldives must fill out a Traveler Health Declaration Form 24 hours prior to arrival and will be subject to temperature screening upon arrival.
As many countries debate and question the laws regarding the importance of mask wearing as a transmission prevention measure, it is advisable to always keep a mask or facial protective garment handy when in enclosed public spaces, to avoid potential run-ins with local authorities and to protect other travelers and residents.