UAE residents got a surprise National Day gift when authorities added an extra public holiday and made it a three-day weekend. Employees of both private and public sectors will get December 2, 3 and 4 (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) off to mark the national occasion.

Airfares and staycation rates have soared as families rush to book last-minute trips. According to industry experts, airfares to popular destinations have jumped by nearly 300 per cent for the long weekend.

A Dubai-based travel services provider has now revealed the most popular holiday hotspots. According to dnata Travel, the top five most booked international destinations with UAE-based travellers are:

Thailand is the most popular destination for the National Day weekend, taking about 15 per cent of all bookings.

“Azerbaijan is a new entry for this time of the year in 2023, with bookings up 50 per cent compared to the same period in 2022. The capital, Baku, is proving popular with UAE travellers for a city break closer to home. Bookings to the UK, Switzerland, France, India and the Seychelles are also trending,” said the agency.

The company said 80 per cent of all bookings are for international travel. When it comes to staycations, most of them are being booked in Dubai, followed by Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah.

Meerah Ketait, head of Retail and Leisure UAE at dnata Travel, said: "Travellers are exploring more of the world, including lesser-known places and new locations across popular hotspots. In addition to the ever-popular destinations of Thailand and the Maldives, we have seen a notable increase in travel to Azerbaijan in particular.”

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