Getaways to Georgia and Turkey during the Eid holiday have taken off as travel agencies and tour operators are rejoicing the return of international vacations with Covid-19 restrictions being rolled back.
Turkey and Georgia have emerged as popular destinations, while families are reticent about visiting places like Azerbaijan, because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict in the region.
“Since Bahrain had very few restrictions for much of the Covid-19 pandemic, most expatriate families have already visited their home countries and are taking advantage of the Eid holidays to visit destinations like Istanbul, Ankara and Tbilisi,” Bahrain International Travel managing director C D Singh told the GDN.
This year’s holidays started with a weekend on Friday and Saturday, followed immediately by Labour Day on Sunday.
However, should Sunday be declared as the first day of Eid, then the holidays would run from Sunday to Tuesday with Wednesday given to workers as a day off in compensation for Sunday. And, should Eid be declared on Monday, then the break days would also automatically continue until Wednesday. This means workers in both the government and private sectors will be expected back to work on May 5.
Many had hoped that the odd working day split between two weekends, Eid Al Fitr and Labour Day, would become a special national holiday, after a call by MPs.
Travel agents previously revealed that no bookings had been changed or cancelled when it became clear the extra day would not be included.
While some families are opting for three to four-day long getaways, others have planned months in advance and are taking next Thursday off to go for 10-day trips.
According to Mr Singh, Turkey, in particular, is very popular amongst both expatriates and citizens because of its lower costs and variety of recreational options.
Interestingly, travel agencies are also seeing more queries for trips to countries like Tanzania and Uganda, where vacationers have more experiential options including wildlife safaris and mountain exploration. Some agencies are also seeing Egypt as another popular travel destination, with families packing up their bags to head to the country for seven to 10-day stints.
“We are also seeing families pack in more than one destination into their trips, especially if they are going for longer stays,” Magnum Travel Services general manager Haifa Oun said.
Overall, travel agencies are seeing a surge, once again, in queries and are finding their clients are much more optimistic about the coming months.
Many families are booking trips to European destinations like Italy for the summer.
“During the pandemic, most of the questions we got from our clients were about local travel restrictions and Covid-19 precautions, but now, most of our customers just need to know what vaccines are accepted,” Ms Oun explained.
On a larger scale, resort and vacation packages remain the most popular options, but some families are also electing for more curated and customised trips, with a wide spectrum of budgets.
Mr Singh estimates that families travelling to Turkey are spending BD200 – BD250 on average per person for a seven-day trip, while those headed to Georgia are spending BD500 – BD600 per person for a four to five-day trip.
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