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.