Coronavirus: A quarter of UAE residents will shun travel until vaccine is in use, survey finds

Just one in five travellers happy to fly to international tourism hotspots

FILE PHOTO: Passengers wearing protective face masks sit on a plane at Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, June 20, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo/File Photo
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More than a quarter of UAE residents are unwilling to travel until a Covid-19 vaccine is in use, a survey has found.

The YouGov survey of 1,011 people - carried out last month - revealed 27 per cent of respondents had "abandoned the idea of travel" in any form until immunisation was available.

For those willing to venture during the pandemic, 24 per cent said they would choose a staycation, while 20 per cent would still travel to an international destination in which tourists were allowed.

Twelve per cent said they would only travel - both domestically and international - to areas with low Covid-19 infection rates.

Women were more likely to be shy travellers than men, with 32 per cent opting to stay at home opposed to 25 per cent of men.

The travel industry is preparing to rebound as successful vaccines are rolled-out.

"No one can predict the future, but we expect a steep recovery in travel demand once a Covid-19 vaccine is available,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates airline and group.

“We are readying ourselves to serve that rebound."

The YouGov figures were reflected in the latest financial report posted by Emirates Airline, the largest regional carrier and biggest long-haul operator.

The devastating impact of Covid-19 was highlighted in a Dh12.6 billion ($3.4bn) loss for the first half of the 2020-21 financial year.

The emergence of an effective vaccine produced by Pfizer with a reported 90 per cent success rate against the virus offer hope for the travel industry.

The fear of the pandemic seemed to be universal among the different age groups.

Staycations prove popular as pandemic influences holiday plans

Of young adults aged between 18-24 years, 35 per cent were reluctant to fly and 33 per cent of those aged 45 and above.

The boredom of staying and working from home had inspired a new form of travel to a new or off-beat destination to work as well as relax.

The survey found one in eight (12 per cent) of UAE residents were looking forward to go on a working holiday during the pandemic.

This particular form of holiday was more popular among high-income households.

Of those earning Dh40,000 a month or more, 29 per cent wanted to take a working holiday in the UAE.

Among those willing to travel, beaches and mountains topped the preferred list of destinations (45 per cent), followed by luxury resorts (33 per cent), wildlife sanctuaries (29 per cent) and health and wellness retreats (27 per cent).

Despite those numbers, a majority of 59 per cent preferred to travel only with close family members.

How Covid-19 has spread caution over travel plans