Travel

Dubai Opens to Tourists on July 7; A Guide to Getting There

Dubai, one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations, is opening to receive visitors again from July 7, 2020. Having closed its borders on March 25 in an effort to curtail the new coronavirus pandemic, the Dubai economy has suffered a huge blow, endangering its aviation, hospitality, entertainment, logistics and retail sectors. In May, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce predicted that up to 70% of companies in the city will shut down within the next six months owing to the lockdown imposed to control the spread of the new coronavirus. Tourism contributes 12% of the GDP of the United Arab Emirate’s nation and a lot of businesses are linked to the tourism economy. As elsewhere, the opening of the economy and airports comes with strict measures.

The city thrives on the influx of foreigners for economic sustenance. Nicknamed “the shopping capital of the Middle East”, Dubai prides itself on its unmatched ability to attract visitors to its world-class shopping malls, alongside the breathtaking architecture and business hub.

The 2019 Global Destinations Index named Dubai the fourth most-visited city in the world, attracting 15.93 million international visitors, behind Bangkok, Paris and London.

Dubai has no rival when it comes to generating revenue from visitors. According to Global Destinations Index, international visitors spent $30.82 billion in Dubai, the highest in the world, ahead of Mecca, Bangkok and Singapore. Visitors splashed the money on the city’s lavish hotels, famous souks, luxury dining, rapturous nightlife and numerous attraction spots.

The tourists came mostly from India, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, China and Oman, with Nigeria being the fastest-growing source country with 246,000 tourists in 2019.

The city is opening up again to foreign travelers, following the same path as Turkey, St. Lucia, Cyprus, Greece and the Maldives, all of which rely heavily on tourism. This development comes with new rules which potential tourists need to be keenly aware of. The United Arab Emirates takes the enforcement of its rules very seriously, announcing back in March that all those who disobey the anti-coronavirus guidelines could be fined up to $13,000 [N5.38 million]. It had, earlier this week, moved to ban flights from Pakistain after 24 people who were abroad a flight travelling from Pakistan to Hong Kong via Dubai, were found to be positive.

COVID-19 Negative Certificate

All tourists are expected to present documents showing they have tested negative in a PCR test conducted four days before their departure date. Failure to provide this means they would be subjected to testing at the Dubai airports.

Health Declaration Form

In order to ascertain the health statuses of the tourists, the Dubai government requires all incoming nationals to fill out the health declaration form they will be provided by their respective airlines. This form includes questions about any symptoms the passengers might be having.

Health Insurance

All tourists must be adequately covered by international health insurance.

DXB App

This has been described as a critical must-have. All tourists are expected to download the Covid-19 DXB application and register their details on it. This is so that Dubai health authorities can monitor tourists all through their stay.

Right of Refusal

All airlines have the right to refuse to board a tourist who begins displaying symptoms of the virus, either in the airport or on the plane. This is to protect everyone else and curb the spread.

Mask-Wearing

This is an existing rule that applies to everyone, tourist or not. Every resident of the United Arab Emirates is expected to wear a mask. Failure to comply could attract up to $800 as fine.

Dubai should not expect many visitors from Nigeria. The average price of crude oil in 2019 when the Global Destinations Index was compiled was $62.83 per barrel and the dollar-to-naira exchange rate was N357 per dollar. Nigeria ‘s bonny light has sold for as low as $18 since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the naira now exchanges for N420 to the dollar on the black market. The Central Bank of Nigeria has a huge backlog,  said to be up to $7 billion of unmet demand for foreign exchange. With a recession looming, many would-be Nigerian vacationers in Dubai are either fearful of losing their jobs or worrying about how to cope with diminished incomes. The souks and malls of Dubai have to wait until the oil prices recover.

 

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