Dubai: The removal of all COVID-19 related restrictions from Friday 11 February appears to be just the boost needed in the UAE for UK travel demand, travel agencies and portals confirming an increase in reservation requests. From tomorrow, Britain will allow all fully vaccinated arrivals without testing or quarantine requirements.
Arrivals at UK airports will only require a Passenger Locator Form. Travelers who are not recognized as fully vaccinated will need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test no later than the second day after arriving in the UK. With testing scrapped, the average family can save around Dh500 (£100) on their travel plans to Britain, the UK government has said.
Even then, those with imminent travel plans to the UK are seeking more clarity on the situation on the ground. “UK bookings are increasing, as are visa applications, but most expats and tourists seem to be aiming for February 18-19,” a Regal Tours Worldwide spokesperson said. “It shows that people are still a little hesitant and probably think the restrictions could be reimposed if the COVID-19 situation worsens in the UK.
“There is also some interest in summer travel, particularly from corporate clients.”
Travel prospects are improving
European vacation company TUI Group expects a strong summer this year, driven by pent-up travel demand and the lifting of global restrictions. The company said more than four times as many customers traveled with TUI in the first quarter of 2022 than in the same period last year. Turnover was five times higher than the same period last year.
“The framework conditions for tourism have improved considerably, government measures are becoming more predictable and reliable, and the lifting of global restrictions has started or is foreseeable in certain markets,” TUI said in a statement. “The UK and Denmark are leading the way – it shows that travel has great value for people,” he added.
Cheaper flights too
Emirates airline is offering a 25% discount on tickets to the UK and selected other destinations. The reservation period is from February 7 to 14 for travel until May 31.
“Fall in love with travel this season and create new memories together,” the airline said on its website. “Fly with Emirates with a loved one, family or friends and you will each get 25% off your fare.
Selected destinations include Amman, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Beirut, Cairo, Colombo, Istanbul, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Maldives, Mauritius, Moscow, Munich, Paris, Phuket, Seychelles and Zurich.
A one-way plane ticket from Dubai to London costs between 1,200 and 1,500 Dhs. From Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways charges around Dh1,300 for a flight to the British capital.
The UK’s early adoption of open travel may be partly responsible for putting the Dubai-London route back on the map. It was the third busiest air route in January with around 247,000 seats, according to OAG, an aviation consultancy.
Travelers applaud UK setback
UK expats based in the UAE are excited to return home without any restrictions. “I love to travel, so I’m really pleased to hear the UK is open, so it’s easier for me to get home and visit my family,” said Laura Dunn, a PR professional based in London. Abu Dhabi. “I look forward to seeing this trend continue with other destinations as well, so that we can take advantage of this convenient location in Abu Dhabi to travel around the world.”
For UK travelers in general, the decision brings great relief as they are already burdened with high fares. “Finally, those second day tests were a scam,” one user tweeted.
“Good news, hopefully we can (re)discover overseas travel as usual,” another tweeted. A third user of the social media platform commented: “A much needed move and a boost for inbound travel. Do you have any chance of having a word with the United States and asking them to do the same? »
Not everyone agrees with the decision. “How can this be a sensible decision when we know fully vaccinated people can still become infected and transmit the virus at alarming rates?” says one user.
Best pre-summer break
The return of passengers on the UAE-UK route will be a big relief for airlines reeling from travel restrictions. Australia, another major market in the Asia-Pacific region, will also reopen to fully vaccinated international tourists from February 21.
Australia, which has exercised some of the toughest border controls in the world throughout the pandemic, is key to rebuilding the ‘fifth’ or ‘sixth freedom’ traffic. Carriers like Emirates Airline and Singapore Airlines may be able to take advantage of fifth freedom agreements and operate multi-stop flights.