As UAE resumes tourist visa, flight rates soar

As the United Arab Emirates (UAE) resumed tourist visas for fully vaccinated travellers from Monday, the flight rates between Kerala and various Emirates cities soared higher even as travel agents are waiting for the final standard operating procedures from civil aviation authorities.

The one-way from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai was about ₹37,000 on September 5 in Etihad Airways. A direct flight from Kochi to Dubai in Emirates airline costs ₹29,000 and upward.

The opening of the tourist visas is expected to benefit thousands of Indians especially Keralities planning to visit their families in the UAE apart from raising job opportunities ahead of the rescheduled World Expo hosted by Dubai from October 1, to March 31, 2022.

The tourist visa is granted for either 30 days or 90 days. Indian citizens with valid visa of the US or UK are also eligible for visa on arrival.

The UAE, which has been gradually easing rules on travel, has also made stipulations such as offering tourist visas only to World Health Organisation (WHO)- approved COVID-19 vaccines. As of now, only Covishield (Oxford/AstraZeneca formulation) administered in India has been approved by WHO.

Through a tweet, the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority has said that " starting from 30th August, application for tourist visas will be open to people from all countries, provided that they are fully vaccinated with one of the WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines."

The Emirates News Agency, said that ‘the decision also comes as part of the country’s strategy to create a balance between public health and the activities of vital sectors, and in support of the national efforts to achieve sustainable recovery and economic growth.

The decision also applied to citizens of all countries including those arriving from previously banned countries. But arriving passengers on tourist visas must take a mandatory rapid PCR test at the airport.

Also, the previous rules for unvaccinated , including the exempted categories, would remain in place. Further, travellers wishing to receive the benefits provided to individuals vaccinated in the UAE can register their vaccination using the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship portal or Alhosn, the official COVID-19 results app for the UAE.

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