The travel itch: where do UAE residents dream of flying to after Covid-19?

Holiday plans have been put on hold for many people due to ongoing pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has put holiday plans on hold for millions of people across the globe.

Safety concerns and travel restrictions have prompted many to stay at home.

Absence has certainly made the heart grow fonder for UAE residents eager to jet off to favourite haunts or sample new destinations.

In many cases, how countries have controlled the spread of Covid-19 has influenced travel plans.

While the world is set to continue grappling with the wide-ranging impact of Covid-19 well into the new year, people continue to glance out of their window and chart travel plans for times when things go ‘back to normal’.

We asked residents to list the treasured spots they can't wait to visit.

Kerala: The spice garden of India

Jordanian Mohammad Nabulsi misses the frequent breaks he took in Cochin, a city in India's  Kerala state.

“I can’t count how many times I have been to Kerala but I can tell you how many times I have been to Jordan,” said the 32-year-old operations officer with the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services.

“I feel safe in Cochin. It is my favourite place. I like the people and the weather. I even like going there for weekends. From the first moment I went to Kerala, I have been in love with it.”

The Sharjah resident would also like to visit London in winter.

"I like their traditions like the Queen's speech. I would like to stay in a typical English house and drink a lot of tea," he said.

“I was planning to spend Christmas and New Year in London before corona happened.”

Travelling is his tactic to beat back depression.

“This was a really good strategy for me. Travelling was good to avoid stress in life,” he said.

“Both travelling and the cinema helped me cope.”

Doctors and health authorities have said the pandemic has resulted in elevated levels of anxiety and stress with a rise in loneliness and depression across the world.

Eastern promise for Emirati cyclist 

Roudha Al Awadhi, co-founder of UAE Cycling Girls, which encourages women to take up exercise and fitness, said she was drawn to countries in the East particularly after seeing how well they handled the coronavirus pandemic.

“Before the pandemic, I would [have wanted to] travel to Europe, Paris,” said the Emirati.

“After the lockdown, I have become more interested in the Eastern side in Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and Japan.

“We are seeing more lockdowns in the West. The Eastern countries have managed better. People will go back to normal only when the fear is totally removed from their mind.”

She has been working on a stitching, embroidery and craft work to relax.

Costa del Sol siesta

Dubai resident Lisa Drury has visited Nerja town in Spain's southern Andalusia region with her family for years.

“We try to go every year. We have family ties and we usually rent a place,” said the British national, 53, who works in public relations.

Her daughters Charlotte Francesca, and husband Matthew, enjoy renting different places in the same town.

“I have two teenage girls who love it out there because it’s safe. They can go out in the evenings without any hassle.

"The weather is beautiful. It’s probably equivalent to the weather here in March, June or July. We love Spain, the food and the wine.”

Filipino's dream journey to the Holy Land 

Arthur Los Banos has set his sights on Cana in Galilee – a popular destination for pilgrims and couples renewing marriage vows.

“Now with ties opening up, it would be convenient and cost effective to visit. I would love to visit the Holy Land to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary in May,” said Mr Los Banos, who works for an energy logistics company.

Millions of pilgrims frequent Jerusalem and other cities every year.

The UAE normalised relations with Israel in August.

Diplomatic meetings and travel has resumed between both countries following the signing of an agreement called the Abraham Accord.

He would also like to travel with his wife Elle and son Yuji to islands that dot his home country the Philippines.

The couple have missed visiting their son, a university student in Manila.

“I want to explore places I have not been to in the Philippines, the archipelago has more than 7,000 islands,” said the 54-year-old Dubai resident.

“I would like to travel by car for 10 days covering the whole island of Luzon.”

The island at the northern end of the Philippines is the country’s largest and is known for mountains, beaches, coral reefs and towns with cobblestone streets.

“Travelling broadens your perspective in life, you met other nationalities and you become more human,” he said.

Escape to Thai island paradise

British citizen Lisa Jessup wants to head to the popular Thai island,  Koh Samui, where the family has a holiday home.

Ms Jessup, her husband Rob and their sons Jack and Max have enjoyed time spent on the island that is also a favourite with tourists.

They bought a home in January 2019 on the island famed for white sandy beaches, mountainous rainforests and luxury resorts.

“We were last there in March 2020. My husband just made it back before Dubai shut the borders,” said Ms Jessup, a director in the energy industry.

“We had flights booked for other times throughout the course of this year, but obviously those have all been cancelled. As soon as it opens we will go.”