Saturday, July 11, 2020

Speaking out


Domestic tourism to the rescue
June 2020 4638

When he wrote these famous lines, Tagore was being philosophical and nationalistic, also a tad self-depreciating – but he certainly wasn’t talking about the tectonic shift we see today towards domestic tourism.

Yet his words ring so true today, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, when international travel comes to a standstill. With closed borders and struggling airlines, experts around the world are looking up to domestic travel as a means to kickstart the recovery process, when travel restrictions finally come to an end.

Domestic travel is great; it keeps the money within the country, providing much-needed economic boost, doesn’t require hours of travelling on the road, no border checks and no applying for visas.

 

Domestic travel is great; it keeps the money within the country, providing much-needed economic boost, doesn’t require hours of travelling on the road, no border checks and no applying for visas

 

Domestic tourism is also more affordable for today’s traveller, majority of whom are expected to be careful of their expenditure in the near future. Domestic tourism also primes the industry for international travellers when cross-border and airline travel open up.  

The problem with domestic travel in Gulf countries?

Not every country in the Gulf was created equal. Not every border contains within itself a well-developed domestic tourism product.

No points for guessing that within the GCC, the UAE comes out on top when we consider staycation products that are ready or will be ready once all the travel restrictions are lifted - whether we consider its wide range of accommodation options or entertainment choices.

Other Gulf countries have also been developing their product as well. Motorsport has become a national symbol for the island country of Bahrain, being the first GCC country to host Formula 1. Last year, Bahrain saw the much-anticipated opening of ‘The Merchant House’, a boutique hotel owned by the Campbell-Gray Hotel group, and Dive Bahrain, the world’s largest underwater theme park.

Nature-blessed Oman has popular staycation options in Salalah, which interestingly and conveniently becomes green, wet and cool during the dry summer months the rest of us experience in the GCC. There are also accommodation options in capital Muscat and on Jebel Akhdar mountain an hour’s drive away from the city.

Even before Saudi Arabia’s megaprojects are ready, the kingdom is used to a steady flow of domestic travellers for leisure. According to the data provided by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in 2017, the number of domestic travellers in Saudi Arabia amounted to approximately 18.4 million, compared to 13.3 million in 2008. These numbers do not include business travel but only leisure travellers.

Quarantined inside our burrows for months, we have been forced to slow down and appreciate things we always took for granted, our mobility is now governed by government. This mandatory stop to our movement, albeit for our own good and the greater good, has affected people deeply. While some cannot wait to go back to travelling for leisure or to be united with their families, some have happily resigned to couch surfing and the world of Zoom calls and digital fam trips. Here’s hoping they will be reminded of their undying passion and blind love for travel when the time is right.   





Similar Stories




Digital Edition




©Copyright Al Hilal Group 2017. Designed and Developed by Northstar Technologies.