UAE residents rebook Eid holiday trips after flights from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka suspended
Sri Lanka was among the most popular destinations for foreign travel this week
Residents in the UAE rescheduled or cancelled trips after inbound flights from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal were suspended.
UAE authorities made the announcement on Monday, ahead of the Eid Al Fitr holidays.
Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka have experienced a surge in cases, while Pakistan is struggling to contain a third wave of infections.
The announcement came after the UAE extended the suspension of entry for travellers from India on all flights, as well as for transit passengers coming from the subcontinent.
The temporary ban comes into effect at 11.59pm on Wednesday.
Most of the cases we have dealt with so far are people who were due to fly to Pakistan tonight or early tomorrow morning
Godfrey Lopez from Uranus Travel and Tours in Dubai said 90 per cent of his clients were rescheduling.
“There will be more clients who will start calling soon to either cancel or reschedule, but most chose to change their travel plans to another date,” he said.
Fardan Haneef, operations manager at Deira Travel and Tourist Agency, said he had a handful of holidaymakers who will be impacted.
“We do not have many clients due to return to the UAE from these countries, but we have many that are now cancelling trips out of the UAE,” he said.
“This is still a fresh announcement but most of the cases we have dealt with so far are people who were due to fly to Pakistan tonight or early tomorrow morning.”
Mr Haneef said very few UAE residents would make the decision to travel outside the country in the knowledge they could struggle to return.
His travel agency has received notes from multiple airlines giving options of date changes or cash refunds.
Paul Farrell, owner of Premium Choice Travels in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, had to inform a number of clients of the latest travel update.
“We have actioned one cancellation so far for a customer that was due to fly out of Dubai tonight to Colombo in Sri Lanka,” he said.
“We are first trying to secure a refund from the airline and accommodation and then we can look to book him an alternative package holiday to somewhere else or rebook for a later date.
“Lots of people were due to travel over Eid so this will cause some upset but there is nothing they can do when restrictions like this are in place.”
There are also residents who travelled to Pakistan ahead of Eid who are now uncertain when they will be able to return.
Farrah Ali travelled to Pakistan with her husband and two children on May 7 after her mother-in-law fell ill. They were due to return to Abu Dhabi this week.
“We are now in a fix. We can stay here for a long time, but my husband can't as he is the only earner of the family. He works as a banker in Abu Dhabi,” she said.
“We are trying to get a seat for him so he can get back to the UAE as soon as possible, but seats are not available.”
Sehrish Qasim travelled to Pakistan on March 25 with her husband and two children after her mother died.
They were meant to be flying back later this month, as their UAE residence visas are expiring soon.
“Due to this unprecedented situation, we are in complete shock and unable to comprehend what to do next,” she said.
“My daughter's third term has started and her books are back home in the UAE. I just hope and pray that this ban will lift soon so that people who are stranded can go home.”
Travel agents in Pakistan said their businesses have also been impacted as the majority of their clients are people employed in Dubai.
Touqeer Tanveer from Sky Travel and Tours in Islamabad said his clients include workers and families who are UAE residents.
“Many of our clients are stranded here now. A lot of them are workers who came here for Eid and now are not sure when they will go back,” he said.
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Updated: May 10, 2021 06:48 PM