UAE hotels brace for busy semester as bookings surge

Holidaymakers from all over the world will descend on the United Arab Emirates this week at the start of the school midterm.

Hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi reported an increase in bookings from domestic and international guests.

Some airlines have also introduced additional flights to meet passenger travel demand as the global Covid-19 vaccination campaign has eased travel anxiety.

With the week-long half-term starting on February 14, hotels said they received bookings from a number of international markets, including the UK, US, Saudi Arabia and Spain , and many lured guests with free room upgrades and activity discounts.

The average length of stay for our half-stay guests is four to five days. If we compare to this period in 2021, we have seen an increase of around 15% in the occupancy rate, on average

Nathalie Cockayne, Melia Desert Palm

Nathalie Cockayne, general manager of the Melia Desert Palm hotel in Dubai, said the 39-room property was operating at more than 90% occupancy for the midterm week.

“The average length of stay for our mid-term guests is four to five days,” she said.

“We have seen strong demand for the next week.

“If we compare to this period in 2021, we saw an increase of around 15% in occupancy, on average.”

She said most of the guests were international travelers, mostly from the UK, US, Spain and Argentina.

Vinayak Mahtani, managing director of bnbme, which manages holiday home rentals in the United Arab Emirates, said British tourists are currently at the top of their booking list.

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“We have seen an increase in demand for people traveling from the UK for the mid-term break, but we have also seen an increase in stays,” he said.

“For residents of Dubai, we are seeing strong demand for our glamping facilities.

“I think local residents have been there and have done so in terms of resort stays and are more inclined to try something different, but luxurious.”

For apartment stays, he said the most popular areas were Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Village Circle and Jumeirah Beach Residence. Glamping bookings have exploded in the Al Qudra desert, as well as the beach and wadi areas in Ras Al Khaimah.

In Abu Dhabi, Jatinder Singh, director of sales and marketing at the W Hotel on Yas Island, which has 499 rooms, said school holidays were always a busy time.

“We have seen a steady recovery this year and the hotel is showing a high occupancy rate of 80%,” he said.

“We expect higher occupancy at the start of the mid-term school holidays.

“We have an online stay and play offer on the hotel website which gives guests discounts for booking rooms as well as theme park tickets from Ferarri World, Warner Brothers and Yas Waterworld for vacations.”

Mr Singh said the majority of customers booking at the hotel were from the GCC and Europe, with residents of the United Arab Emirates also booking stays.

Earlier this month, data from travel agency site Skyscanner showed Dubai was the most popular destination for British holidaymakers in 2022, ahead of Spain, Tenerife and Malaga.

January bookings to Dubai from the UK were up 49% compared to the same month in 2020.

A flydubai representative said school holidays were always a busy time for flights, and the pre-planned times reflected this.

“It is a popular travel period for our passengers and our published flight schedules take into account public holidays, national holidays and school holidays,” she said.

“We expect strong travel demand to holiday destinations like Colombo, Istanbul, the Maldives, Salalah and Tbilisi.

“Dubai continues to be the preferred holiday destination as we see more and more UAE residents choosing to host friends and family in our city over the holiday period, which is reflected in the traffic entering around our network.”

The Emirates website shows the airline is also operating an additional daily service on its Dubai-London Heathrow route.

Seven A380 flights will depart Dubai for Heathrow, with the additional service scheduled to depart at 3:15 p.m. from Dubai International Airport.

To travel to Dubai from the UK, passengers must present a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours of departure.

Children under 12 and passengers with moderate to severe disabilities are not required to take a PCR test to travel to the UAE.

The rules for travel to the UK are the same for Abu Dhabi. Whether you are a resident of the United Arab Emirates or a tourist, you will be required to present a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours of departure.

If you are fully immunized and traveling to Abu Dhabi, you should be tested upon arrival at Abu Dhabi Airport – after baggage claim. There is no need to quarantine, but as the UK has been removed from Abu Dhabi’s green list, you must take another PCR test on the fourth and eighth day.

Updated: February 14, 2022, 5:53 a.m.

About Elizabeth Smith

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