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June to August usually has peak travel times as they coincide with the summer school holidays.
As the peak travel season approaches, most Indian expats in the UAE are canceling or postponing their plans to travel home for the summer, the Khaleej Times has learned.
The months June to August are usually peak travel times for Indian expatriates as they coincide with the summer school holidays.
However, uncertainty over the continued suspension of passenger services from India, as well as an intensive teen vaccination campaign in the UAE, are the main reasons for the low demand, said residents of India and travel agents.
“Peak travel to India is closely related to the school vacation seasons. In this case, the UAE announced an active vaccination campaign for students aged 12-15. Parents are concerned that if they travel in the summer, their children may miss their vaccinations, ”said Rahish Babu, general manager of Musafir.com, an online travel agency.
“Because of this, there is a high likelihood that students may have to return to campus in September,” he added. “Since the travel situation in India is very unstable, residents avoid travel because they also fear being stranded.” The agency said it received several cancellations on its reservations.
The suspension of incoming passenger traffic from India to the UAE began on April 24. It was extended on May 4 by the UAE’s National Emergency Management Agency (NCEMA) in light of the second deadly wave of Covid-19 that is currently affecting India.
Two weeks ago, Emirates Airlines announced a validity extension suspension of passenger flights from India to the UAE until June 30…
Currently, only a certain category of travelers are allowed to travel, including golden visa holders, diplomats and individuals with special permits.
Visa extension to visit the country is in high demand
In addition, India’s international air operations have been suspended since March last year, with only countries that have signed an air bubble agreement with a South Asian country operating passenger flights.
“At the moment, there is very little clarity about the flight schedule for the air bubble agreement. People have very little confidence, ”Babu said.
He also said that the current demand for visa extensions for domestic visits is extremely high. “We have at least 1,500 such visit visa extensions every day. Residents, whose parents and other relatives on a visitor visa, who are currently in the UAE, are extending their stay, ”he explained.
Mir Wasim Raja, MICE and Holidays Manager at Galadari International Travel Services, also told the Khaleej Times that travel requests to India have dried up over the past few weeks. “People are afraid of getting stuck in India, and even those who want to book tickets ask for guarantees. Unfortunately, this is not our business, ”said Raja.
He added: “There are very few cases where expats want to send their families home. Currently, the demand only applies to entire families, as they do not currently consider it safe to be in India either. ” However, agents such as Mir hope the shutdown will end by this month, leading to an influx of travelers from July.
Afi Ahmed, managing director of Smart Travels, echoed observations of very low demand from expatriate families. “As long as the suspension for arriving passengers is in effect, travel confidence will be very low. In addition, Covid-19 cases in India are declining at a slow rate. “
Let’s wait and watch, expatriates say
However, expats prefer to wait and watch. Since many of them have not traveled home since March last year, the interest in returning to India is very high.
Manoj Nair, a Malayal expatriate from Abu Dhabi, said: “I desperately want to go to India. My parents are aged; I had not seen them for two years and was going to visit them at the end of this month. However, I cannot afford to be stuck there, as I am the only breadwinner in my family. “
K.V. Shamsudin, chairman of the Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, which is currently based in India, told the Khaleej Times: “Many Indians are stuck in India. Many face problems, since half of their family is in the UAE, and the breadwinner is in India. In some cases, their residence visas either expire soon or the delay in returning to work results in a loss of wages. “
He added: “If the authorities allow all residence visa holders who have already taken both doses of the vaccine to return to the UAE, it will be a huge relief for many.”
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