COVID-19: How will UAE being on UK's red list impact tourism

Top UAE officials have also expressed dismay at UK’s decision

Dubai airports CEO speaks out on post-COVID-19 recovery plans. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Dubai airports CEO speaks out on post-COVID-19 recovery plans. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle. Image used for illustrative purpose.

The UK’s decision to keep UAE in its travel ‘red list’ for the near future is a big blow to the travel and tourism sector, industry experts said on Saturday.

Top UAE officials have also expressed dismay at UK’s decision. Being on the ‘red list’ imposes a mandatory hotel stay on British and Irish nationals returning to England as part of its pandemic response. The ruling excludes all other nationalities, which, in turn, will keep families apart, UAE officials said.

Mansoor Abulhoul, the UAE Ambassador to the UK said in a statement on Twitter, “The UAE is one of the safest countries in the world in relation to Covid-19.”

He wrote, “Summer is a key season for Emiratis and the hundreds of thousands of Britons living in the UAE to visit the UK. I hope that trade and tourism will soon resume, as well as the opportunity for families and friends across our two nations to reunite.”

About 15 countries were added to the UK’s list for quarantine-free travel from May 17, which included Portugal, Iceland, Israel, Singapore and Australia. Passengers arriving from red list countries, including the UAE, are required to quarantine at a government-mandated hotel for 10 days at a cost of £1,750 (Dh8,982.95) per adult.

In a previous tweet, Abulhoul had praised UAE’s vaccination efforts stating, “The UAE has made significant strides in its own vaccination programme, but it’s now vital that we work just as hard to support others around the world.”

Experts said the decision will negatively impact travel and tourism between both countries.

Raja Mir Wasim, the manager, MICE and holidays at International Travel Services said, “During the summers, Emiratis travel a lot to the UK and Europe. They spend time there with their families and some of them even have properties in the UK. They usually spend a long vacation of at least one or two months. But it is a UK government decision, and I’m sure they will look into it and will open it up soon for the UAE.”

He added, “We are also dependent on tourism, and it is one of the major contributors and I’m hopeful by the end of May or June, they will remove UAE from the red list.” Bharat Aidasani, the managing partner at Pluto Travels, said, “The UK is a big market for the UAE, and it has really impacted in a big way because of this current wave.”

He explained, “With regards to people coming from the UK, there is only a very small movement, which is only on emergency, because the UK has issued some restrictions on travel as well. So, whoever have come in is looking into alternatives to travel, because you can come from the UK, but you cannot travel directly to the UK.”

Aidasani also said, “The market was very strong and that helped the UAE last December after Christmas as Britain was in lockdown and there were a lot of British tourists in the UAE.”

He added, “The UK is a strong market and because of connectivity of flights like Emirates, British Airways, they are all working strongly; they have direct flights, and it also connects to different countries. I would say that once they start off, it will be strong. But currently there is a challenge everywhere. Not just the UK, but a lot of the European countries as well.”

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