A short haul for this Eid Al Adha

Lifestyle Tuesday 16/August/2016 18:09 PM
By: Times News Service
A short haul for this Eid Al Adha

Outbound holiday travel and bookings have picked up momentum for the Eid Al Adha holidays as the residents prefer peaceful and short haul destinations this time to escape the Omani summer. On the destinations, the travel agents observe that the residents seem to avoid going to places where terror threats are high. This was echoed by most of the major players in the industry who said during the upcoming Eid break, many Omanis have booked their travels to “more peaceful places” in Asia and in Europe such as Georgia, Switzerland, as well as the UK (particularly London). “Yes there is a drop in our outbound business. This is mainly because of the current economic situation in the region and the uncertainty in certain destination,” said Rajeev Thomas, Assistant Manager – Holidays, Eihab Travels.
In Asia, Thailand tops their list followed by Malaysia and Sri Lanka, countries that offer a lot of touristic attractions that suit their preference. The travel players added that many Omanis visit Germany and Thailand also for medical treatment, but the number of bookings has remained low this year.
According to Tiji Mathew John, Bahwan Tourism, “the traditional Eid markets, that is the 4-5 nights stays on the periphery of the GCC area like Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, all have no takers due to the social and political situation in the area. But we are focusing on the usual – short haul sectors such as Georgia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.”
But travel agents note that a lot of residents in the country were now relying on online bookings which they find cheaper compared with the rates offered by many travel agencies. This also is a reason for the dip in the bookings. Travellers can easily book their flights and hotels using their Smartphones and pay by credit cards. However, a travel professional explained that while some residents may find online booking cheaper, it also has its own disadvantages. “Changing travel dates once a booking is done, looking for the best or suitable hotels or accommodations, and cancellation of bookings, among others, will be easier at a travel agency than doing it online, which is time consuming,” Robby George, an expert in the field of holiday travel, said.
According to Suraj Shroff, manager, Holidays, Zahara Holidays, “Omani’s are excited to book the overseas trips for the forthcoming holidays. As per trend we have observed that customers have started planning to book the holidays early which is a good sign and this is helping them get better air fares, hotel rates and get the visas issued on time. ‘Visa-On-Arrival’ destinations is gaining popularity and in addition to Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore which are the most desired destinations, Omanis are now looking for new destinations like Tbilisi-Georgia, Baku-Azerbaijan, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Iran, Maldives, and India which has excellent flight connections and even London is the hot destination due to the e-visa for Omani Nationals.”
“We at Zahara Holidays, also encourage our guests to try new options like Cruise Holidays to Europe and Mediterranean, Escorted Coach Tours to Europe that are cost effective and covers maximum destinations and has worldwide itineraries including Australia and New Zealand, self-drive holidays, relaxing holidays with soft Ayurveda and spa treatments, weeklong family fun stays in pool villas at exotic destinations like Phuket, Ubud, Koh Samui, and Pattaya,” he said.
Rajeev Thomas says that the current trend is to visit destination with relaxed visa policies, easy access, and economical rates. People choose destination with good weather, natural attractions, and scenic beauty and a place to relax with their family and some bargain shopping. “We receive many booking requests for Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Bali, India, and Sri Lanka for the Asian destinations and Georgia, Bosnia, Slovakia, Prague, Greece, and Switzerland in Europe,” he said.
However, experts say that the best option for a budget holiday is to plan your holidays well ahead of time and also look at forming your own family group so that special group fares and group packages can be negotiated. “We highly recommend customers to contact us for full guidance instead of sourcing travel on various dot.coms,” says Suraj Shroff.
If you are on budget then travel agents highly recommend you to keep the travel dates slightly flexible and book only the flights and hotels with basic tours and try considering one of the visa on arrival or e-visa destinations and maximise your stay in one single destination or country instead of using multiple flights and sectors which adds to tour travel budget.
Suraj Shroff said that, Omani currency being very strong, there has been a very positive impact on the outbound leisure business for both budget and luxury traveller and customers know that they are getting the maximum advantage of low air fares on both business and economy class as well as best hotel deals which is inducing them to travel with family to your dream vacation.
“In Oman we have also seen increase in the youth traveller which is a good sign for country’s economy and outbound business continues to grow,” he added.

Expert tips on planning any holiday

• First and foremost please check your passports and ensure they are valid or get them renewed immediately.
• Plan your travel dates and budget with consideration of allfamily members and only thereafter purchase your holiday package.
• Get necessary leave approval from your company.
• Meet the holiday experts and drop in for consultation.
• Take your visa appointments well in advance or get your e-visas issued ahead of time.
• Finalise the destination and budget.
• Plan your holiday budget and consider all the aspects of travel — like cost of flights, hotels, daily meals in the destination, expenses for sightseeing tours, amount of foreign currency you will spend. Note: Flights + hotels will consume the maximum amount of your holiday budget and get your options.
• Medical check-up of all family members prior to travel and get the required prescription medicines.
• For a worry free holiday, don’t leave on your vacation without buying a proper ‘travel insurance’.

Best picks
4 nights/5 days Hong Kong Magic with Disneyland, dinner cruise and day trip to Macau included
• Per adult on twin sharing:
starting OMR290*
• 4 nights at Hotel Metro Park
Kowloon 4* or similar
• Daily breakfast at the hotel
• Round-trip seat-in-coach
Airport transfers
• SIC Symphony of Lights–Victoria Harbour Dinner Cruise
• SIC Deluxe Hong Island Tour with Sky Terrace
• Hong Kong Disneyland Tour with transfers
• SIC Macau excursion

6 Days Bali Beaches and Hill
• Starting from OMR167 and OMR238
• Stay for 3 nights in Bali with buffet breakfast
• Stay for 2 nights in Ubud with buffet breakfast
• Full day Barong Kintamani Tour with lunch at local Indian
Restaurant on PVT basis
• Water Sports at Tanjung Benoa
(One ride each Parasailing, Jetski, Banana Boat)
• Sunset Uluwatu Tour
For the above packages contact Zahara Holidays
+968 9449 3426, +968 2440 0822
Best of Georgia 4 nights/ 5 days
• Rate starting from OMR130 per person based on twin sharing basis
• 4 nights accommodation in Tbilisi in 4 star category hotel
• Daily breakfast
• Airport transfers and city tour on private basis
• Inclusive of all current applicable taxes
Taste of Vienna 3 nights/ 4 days
• Rate starting from OMR163 per adult based on twin sharing basis
• 3 nights accommodation in 3 star category hotel
• Daily breakfast
• 72 hours Vienna Card
• Half day city tour at Schonbrunn Palace
• Coffee and cake at the famous Café Sacher
• Dinner and concert at the Vienna Kursalon – Category C ticket
• For the above packages contact Eihab Travels LLC+968 2468 3900, +968 2468 3912

— shafeeq@timesofoman.com