Sum­mer Get­aways

TravTalk - Middle East - - GUESTCOLUMN -

Over the past few years, out­bound travel to pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions has in­creased in terms of vis­i­tor num­bers from the Mid­dle East mainly due to the high vol­ume of ex­pat work­ers in the re­gion. Whilst lo­cals pre­fer to es­cape to des­ti­na­tions that are high-end and can ac­com­mo­date big­ger fam­i­lies, ex­pats are more fo­cused on value for money and time. Oman and Tur­key are the short­est favoured spots among out­bound des­ti­na­tions with Thai­land and Philip­pines lead­ing the way in long haul. In­dia, Sri Lanka and Mal­dives are also fast be­com­ing favourite short-haul des­ti­na­tions. Here again, Goa in In­dia and Sri Lanka are sold as more af­ford­able des­ti­na­tions for their ease of visa and con­nec­tiv­ity, ac­cord­ing to most out­bound travel agents. Over the past few months more African des­ti­na­tions have been eas­ing their visa rules to wel­come more trav­ellers. Travel, tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity are great con­trib­u­tors to the GDP of every econ­omy. How­ever, world ter­ror­ism has been re­spon­si­ble for strin­gent rules and poli­cies to pro­tect the sovereignty of any nation, hence the need for strict com­pli­ance of reg­u­la­tions.

Mid­dle East has a com­bi­na­tion of trav­ellers in­clud­ing both lo­cals and ex­pats. When the count is made at the air­port bor­der con­trol, the num­bers are taken for granted in terms of pass­port and not in terms of the de­parted des­ti­na­tion. A pas­sen­ger hold­ing a Bri­tish or an In­dian pass­port will also hold a res­i­dence visa from United Arab Emi­rates. In most cases it goes un­no­ticed that the per­son has ac­tu­ally started off the jour­ney from Dubai or Shar­jah or any other emi­rate; in­stead the cat­e­gori­sa­tion will be Bri­tish or In­dian pass­port holder. Speak­ing to most of the tourism boards, this is a hin­drance to the ac­tual count from the Mid­dle East. In fact, some of­fi­cials said that with the amount of daily flights, it is hard to com­pre­hend the dis­par­ity between the ac­tual num­bers, hence they are now im­ple­ment­ing new pro­ce­dures to un­der­stand the de­parted city and res­i­dence sta­tus in­stead of na­tion­al­ity based on pass­port.

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