Gulf travel agents believe the region will return to international travel by August and September

The Maldives was ranked as the number one destination for expected demand in a new survey

The Maldives is expected to rank highly on people's travel bucket lists once international flights recommence. Courtesy Niyama Private Islands Maldives
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As regular passenger flights are slowly reintroduced at various airports around the region, a new survey shows that travel agents in the region envisage a full return to international travel by August and September.

The research, being conducted on a monthly basis by Aviareps, included answers from 94 outbound travel agencies across the GCC.

The majority expect to commence promoting travel offerings from July through to September. Deals will take the form of full travel packages that include air, accommodation and tours, with intra-Middle East options expected to be most popular. This is followed by packages for travel to South East Asian, Indian Ocean destinations and Europe.

The top 10 destinations that are expected to rank highly on people’s travel plans are the Maldives, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, Austria, the UAE, Australia, Germany, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Gobustan in Azerbaijan offers a Unesco Cultural Landscape of more than 6,000 rock engravings. Courtesy The Azerbaijan Tourism Board

A total of 60 per cent of those surveyed expect a return to outbound travel form August and September this year. However, 14 per cent don’t expect this to happen before 2021.

About 97 per cent of respondents said flights, accommodation, land arrangements (including car hire) and tours will be part of their forthcoming promotions.

A previous survey undertaken by Dubai travel and tourism communications agency, AllDetails, found 86 per cent of respondents plan to travel internationally post-pandemic.

The study was conducted among residents of the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Some respondents said their travel plans depend on health security measures put in place. In some cases, if satisfied with the conditions, they said they would be happy to travel as soon as two to four weeks after restrictions have been lifted.

The survey showed those between the ages of 21 to 34 are willing to wait longer than those between the ages of 35 and 64, many of whom said they would travel within four weeks after restrictions have eased.

“The world with regards to the possibilities of international travel is changing daily,” said Glenn Johnston, vice president of Middle East and global public affairs at Aviareps.

“Encouragingly, despite the current difficulties and disruptions to life and business as we knew it, the survey results do reflect the Middle East’s penchant for an overall view of optimism and action, which I think all of us can take solace in and strength from as we all plan for recovery in the months ahead.”

A deserted beach where large numbers of tourists used to come is seen, after an island-wide daytime curfew has been lifted to restart the country's economic activities following an almost two-months of  lockdown amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Colombo, Sri Lanka June 4, 2020. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Regular passenger flights out of Dubai International Airport ceased on Tuesday, March 24, in a bid to stem the global spread of Covid-19. Repatriation flights to select destinations have been running, with regular passenger flights by Emirates restarting to nine destinations on Thursday, May 21. The Dubai airline is also preparing to expand its network to service 50 destinations by the end of June

Emirates president Tim Clark recently said he is hopeful that foreign tourists will be visiting Dubai once again by July.