Stranded expatriates opting for ‘quarantine holiday’ amid UAE travel curbs

Highest demand is from gulf country residents stranded in Pakistan and India


News Desk August 03, 2021
A woman wears a protective face mask due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), at the Murtala Mohammed International airport in Lagos, Nigeria March 19, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

Stranded expatriates have been forced to opt for ‘quarantine holiday’ amid coronavirus-induced travel restrictions.

The highest demand is from UAE residents stranded in Pakistan, India and a few other countries out of the 16 nations facing inbound travel restrictions imposed by the Gulf country, reported Khaleej Times.

Armenia remains the most popular quarantine destination for stranded travellers, followed by Uzbekistan, said Raheesh Babu, Group Chief Operating Officer of Musafir.com, an online travel agency.

Travel companies have said corporate clients are now booking bulk tickets for stranded employees. “We’ve had our corporate clients book at least 50 tickets for essential employees stranded abroad,” explained Babu.

The average cost of travel via this route is Dh6,000 per traveller. “Some families who want a four to five-star travel experience are coughing up at least Dh8,000 per head,” he added.

Also read: UAE may extend flight suspension for Pakistan amid Covid crisis

The costs are inclusive of to and from tickets, 14-day hotel stay and food, RT-PCR testing, and airport transfers. “Some travellers who wish to enjoy a holiday are also opting for destinations such as Maldives and Seychelles,” Babu added.

Afi Ahmed, the Managing Director of Smart Travels, said: “Over the last one or two weeks, the demand for third country quarantine has skyrocketed. People have lost hope, and many are desperate to return. We're receiving at least 15 confirmed bookings every day.”

Raja Mir Wasim, manager of MICE and holidays at International Travel Services, said that the Maldives is now a preferred destination for travellers from India and Pakistan. “The demand is high, and it costs Dh10,000 per passenger to travel via that route.”

Mudassir said, “Passengers book tickets for the destination based on their requirements. If they want to go on a vacation to the quarantine destination, Maldives and Seychelles are the most preferred destinations. But if one has to work from home, central Asian countries are preferred.”

“Travel agents in India and Pakistan are also receiving many bookings; however, the documentation work and government approval should be done from the UAE,” he added.

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