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Travellers wise up to early booking deals

Travel agents and tour operators in the UAE have reported a surge in early bookings this summer. Even Arab nationals, who have traditionally booked their summer holidays as late as one day before the date of travel, are booking two or three weeks in advance to ensure they don’t miss out on good deals.

Travel agents and tour operators in the UAE have reported a surge in early bookings this summer.
Even Arab nationals, who have traditionally booked their summer holidays as late as one day before the date of travel, are booking two or three weeks in advance to ensure they don’t miss out on good deals.
“Travellers are beginning to realise they really do need to book well in advance to secure their first choice of holiday. This is especially the case with families or groups who are tied to travelling on specific dates and wish to go to a specific destination,” explained Nick Wood, general manager, Etihad Holidays.
“Our early booking incentives of AED 200 (US $54) for adults and AED 100 ($27) for children, applicable to holidays booked and paid for 30 days before departure, have been well received.”
Many leading UAE travel agents such as Sam Poddar, manager of Deira-based travel agency, have noticed a “definite shift” towards early bookings this year.
“European and Asian ex-pats have booked well in advance, but even local Arabs are booking three weeks before departure. It’s great for us agents because we have more time to process the bookings and to make any necessary changes,” he said.
“People are trying to take advantage of good advance purchase fares, especially to places like India.”
Etihad Holidays said its top-selling destination out of the UAE is Thailand and Emirates Airlines has also reported that its flights to Bangkok are jam-packed.
“You only have to look how busy the flights are to see that people are booking in advance and Thailand is really busy. Usually you can get flights to Bangkok for US $500 return, but now they are at least $1000,” said Richard Evans, general manager at Dubai-based travel agency Prime Travel.
The UK is Etihad’s second most popular destination this summer followed by Egypt and France in joint third place.
“Our expanded range of Etihad destinations has helped us grow early bookings and we have received very positive feedback about our lowest price guarantee,” said Wood.
“Interestingly, the strong Euro, pound and Swiss Franc do not appear to have had any negative effect on demand for Europe.”

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