Eid al Adha travel bookings double

The number of travellers from the UAE this Eid al Adha has doubled compared to the first Eid holiday because of the length of the break, say travel companies.

There has been a surge in travel bookings for the Eid al Adha holiday from the UAE as global travel continues to recover and tourists take advantage of the long holiday, members of the sector say.

Travel demand during the last Eid holiday, at the end of Ramadan, was held back because of the fact that the holiday fell over a weekend and at the end of the summer holidays.

"We have seen a two-fold increase in the number of guests travelling this Eid al Adha as compared to the first Eid," said Rui Sequeira, the regional manager of commercial operations at Emirates Holidays.

"The average length of stay is between four and four nights," Mr Sequeira said. "However, since a lot of schools are closed for the entire week, we have noticed that guests are booking longer-duration stays.

"The most popular destinations are the Maldives, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and Singapore. But we also received a lot of positive interest for travel to Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Cyprus, the UK, Egypt, Hong Kong and Jordan."

Emirates Holidays launched a number of offers for four nights for the price of three for the Eid break to destinations including Kenya, Cape Town and Bali.

Singapore's tourism board has reported strong demand from the UAE for Eid.

"Demand for travel to Singapore is very strong this year, with flights to Singapore running at full capacity," said Jason Ong, the area director for the Middle East and Africa at the Singapore Tourism Board.

"This is due to the improved economic climate as well as the many new attractions and activities in Singapore."

Among these recently-launched attractions is the Universal Studios theme park.

"Traffic looks set to be stronger for this Eid versus the earlier Eid due to the longer holiday breaks and, more importantly, the earlier Eid came hot on the heels of the summer holidays," said Mr Ong.

Thailand is another destination that is proving to be a popular choice for UAE travellers. The travel authority is trying to encourage UAE travellers to use the Eid break to head to Thailand for the Loy Krathong festival, or festival of light, which happens just after Eid.

"In general I think that for all the Eid holidays all countries will see an increase," said Zeid Malhas, the marketing manager Tourism Authority of Thailand's Middle East office in Dubai, adding that hotels in Thailand have launched promotions to attract travellers from the region during Eid.

The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) last week said that international tourist arrivals grew by 7 per cent in the first eight months of this compared to the same period last year.

The recovery in tourism expenditure is proving much slower, but numbers of people travelling are now above pre-crisis levels, the UNWTO said. Worldwide arrivals between January and August this year reached 642 million, about 1 million more than in the same period of the record year of 2008, the organisation said.