MUSCAT // Travel agents in Muscat say holiday bookings for Dubai have risen by 80 per cent in the past 12 months, as Omanis hit by rising inflation opt for destinations closer to home. Dubai has taken over from Thailand as the top holiday destination for Omanis.
“Omani travellers now prefer to go on holiday in Dubai … more than other destinations,” Veenith Laghari, a tour operator for Delma Holidays, told The National. “It is package holidays they go for that combine tours and hotel for a budget price.”
A direct flight to Dubai from Muscat takes less than an hour, with a return ticket costing about 55 rials (Dh524). A typical five-day package holiday, including flights, travel, four-star accommodation and food costs, about 375 rials per person.
But some package holidays are even cheaper.
“We market our tours [at] less than 300 rials for five days in Dubai combining flights, hotel and sightseeing tours to the top landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa,” Amit Reddy, another tour operator, said.
“The turn up has doubled since April last year because of the economical prices compared to Far East or Europe.”
Comparable holidays to Far East or European destination cost around 800 rials.
Faced with high inflation, particularly since the government removed subsidies for petrol, electricity and water last year, many Omanis have been forced to cut down on the amount they spend on holidays to meet their day-to-day expenditures.
“We used to go to Thailand and Malaysia and sometimes to London but with the cost of living going up, Dubai is a good alternative for now because it is near home,” Omar Al Saidi, a 44-year old teacher told The National.
Other Omanis have cut their travel expenses even further by driving across the border to Dubai and booking hotels themselves online, rather than going through an agent.
“It is about 20 per cent cheaper when you drive and arrange your own hotels and sightseeing instead of [paying for the] all-inclusive package,” said 33-year old civil engineer Abdulla Al Maamari.
“The Burj Khalifa, shopping and children’s attractions like the ice rink is what we go there for.”