Dubai: Outside of India, tourist visa applications from Lebanon and Jordan have increased dramatically since the United Arab Emirates opened them to all vaccinated passengers. The UAE’s decision on issuing tourist visas takes effect today and also includes countries previously prohibited entry, such as Pakistan.
Although most tourist visa applications come from destinations in Asia and the Middle East, ticket issuance has also increased for other destinations, a spokesperson for travel agency Omeir said. âThere is a lot of research going on from Singapore, Europe, the UK and even the US. “
Travelers from several European countries and the United States can obtain a visa upon arrival. A spokesperson for travel agency Omeir added that customers had started checking their plane tickets to the United Arab Emirates ahead of the exhibition opening on October 1.
Travel agencies are still waiting for all official confirmations related to the new tourist visa rules. âWe are waiting for more airline and immigration protocols to start applying for visas and then confirming flight bookings for tourists,â said Ranju David of Happy Trip Tours.
Tourist visa applicants must be fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). Travelers will also need to perform a mandatory rapid PCR test at the airport, with the previous requirements remaining valid for unvaccinated groups. In addition, fully vaccinated tourists can also register their vaccination certificates through the ICA platform or the âAl Hosnâ app to enjoy the benefits granted to the vaccinated people.
The tourist visa is granted for 30 days or 90 days and generally applies to those who are not eligible for a visa on arrival in the UAE. On March 21, the UAE cabinet also approved a five-year multiple-entry tourist visa for all nationalities.
Flights from New Delhi to Dubai can cost between Dh800 and Dh1500, while a seat from Mumbai can cost passengers 2000 Dh at the top end. Flights from Kochi to Dubai are between Dh 700 and Dh 1000.
Karachi-Dubai flights cost at least 1,000 Dh, with some airlines charging around 1,900 Dh. Lahore might be the most expensive option for anyone looking to leave Pakistan – an Emirates flight costs over Dh 5,000.
Airlines will benefit
The increase in travel to the UAE will benefit regional airlines that traditionally rely on traffic from South Asia. “flydubai welcomes any announcement that relaxes the current travel restrictions in place on its network and at our home in the United Arab Emirates,” a spokesperson for Gulf News said. âWe are delighted to see our network grow to reach pre-pandemic numbers as we relax operations on existing routes and open up underserved markets.
“We look forward to starting our flights to Ankara, Budapest, Ljubljana and Warsaw in the coming weeks as we continue to connect the region with direct air links to the United Arab Emirates, especially as the country prepares for welcome visitors for Expo 2020. “
No go to india
As the UAE removes travel restrictions, India has extended its suspension of scheduled international passenger flights until September 30. India has air bubble pacts with around 25 countries. As part of an air bubble pact between two countries, special international flights can be operated by their airlines between their territories.
When the UAE authorized travel for residents of certain countries earlier this month, one of the requirements was a rapid PCR test performed before departure. Several airports, notably in Pakistan and India, were taken on the wrong foot as they did not have these facilities, leading to last minute flight cancellations.
The UAE’s decision to reopen tourist visas will surely lead to an influx of travelers to these air hubs and put more pressure on the newly established COVID-19 control centers at airports. âWe were among the first airports in India to introduce testing facilities at the airport,â said a spokesperson for Bengaluru Airport.
An Afghan situation
Meanwhile, Pakistani airports face a whole different challenge. The recent Taliban takeover of Kabul has resulted in a refugee crisis, which shows signs of escalating.
“Right now and for the past two weeks, Islamabad airport has been overcrowded,” said an official with Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). âA majority have been evacuated, but 1,000 Afghan refugees will come to Pakistan daily and will be stationed in hotels in Islamabad or Rawalpindi.
Islamabad airport “is more concerned with incoming refugees than departures,” the official said.