Expat families have not seen grandparents, friends and other family members for almost eight months now. This has impacted important relationships and caused great anxiety because we are unable to support each other during this difficult time.
It feels like holidays are coming and going but we’re stuck at home alone with no end in sight in the foreseeable future.
Apart from the personal toll the pandemic has taken, the travel industry has taken a gigantic financial knock. Airlines are operating very limited flights in countries where very reduced air travel is still possible, retrench staff and endure mammoth financial losses. Hotels all over the world have experienced the same.
Some countries have started to cautiously agree to staycation packages to give the travel and tourism industry a much-needed economic boost. A staycation is a vacation spent domestically and involves day trips to local attractions, rather than going abroad. In other words, the idea is that people can still enjoy a break from home and work but not travel too far to some exotic location thus avoiding long-haul air travel which could spread the virus.
Bahrain’s hospitality industry was brought to its knees when all access into the country was cut off. The international airport and King Fahad Causeway- the two most accessed points of entry into the country- were closed indefinitely in March to curb the spread of the virus. It was only during the latter part of the summer holiday that certain hotels and resorts were allowed to offer domestic guests accommodation packages in an attempt to keep the hotel industry going.
Hoteliers have had to come up with innovative packages that can appeal and add additional value to local guests like competitive pricing, fun and exciting activities, great kids’ facilities and private beach access. Furthermore, these hotels have had to implement very strict hygiene and deep-cleaning protocols to ensure their guests feel safe at all times.
The United Arab Emirates has taken the lead in promoting staycations with their typical enthusiasm. Their target market is people from all over the Emirates and the other Gulf countries. Abu Dhabi and Dubai, in particular, have seen a marked increase in hotel bookings since the introduction of staycation packages. People are frustrated at their cancelled vacation and still want to experience a “holiday” away from home but in a location that is safe and familiar to them.
Other incentives that hoteliers are using to entice the domestic guest are:
Another factor that is popularizing staycations is the rigorous screening of passengers that still want to travel to other countries. For example, Bahrain requires all passengers landing at the International Airport or obtaining entry through the King Fahad Causeway to have a PCR test done on arrival and this test is valid only for 72 hours. After 10 days they have to have another PCR test to confirm the negative result. Non-compliance with quarantine rules have hefty fines so travel may just not be worth it for many would-be holidaymakers.
As the countries in the Middle East ease into cooler weather people tend to head out to the great outdoors to make the most of the milder weather and being out in the fresh open air is a good way to avoid Covid transmission and still engage in fun activities.
One of the most popular places in Ras Al Khaimah is the mountain region of Jebel Jais.
They offer amazing activities like kayaking, jet skiing, beach games, etc. There are turtle nesting sites and great hiking trails nearby.
Maybe all you need right now to renew your flagging spirits is to book your own staycation! Do your research carefully taking note of any quarantine rules and testing procedures that may be in place. Pack your bags and head off. To breathe in the fresh sea breeze and get out into the sun can only make you feel better. You can have your holiday fun without placing you or your family at risk.
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