Dubai reopens for tourists, coronavirus test needed

With travel uncertain and the coronavirus still striking nations Dubai reopened for tourism on Tuesday, news wires reported. Strongly relying on for tourists, this city-state wants to begin coaxing people back to its beaches and its cavernous shopping malls. But all that depends on controlling a virus that the United Arab Emirates as a whole continues to fight.

Armed with thermometers, mandatory face masks and hand sanitizer, Dubai is wagering it is ready. “I think that will give people confidence to come to Dubai,” Paul Bridger, the corporate director for operations at Dubai-based Rove Hotels told AP. “It will take time to come back. ... We are expecting to be one of the first markets to be back because of the confidence that we can give to people that are traveling.”

That Dubai is a tourist destination at all is largely thanks to its ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who used the state-owned long-haul carrier Emirates to put this one-time pearling post on the map. Attractions like the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and the sail-shaped Burj Al-Arab luxury hotel draw transit passengers out of Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel. In 2019 alone, Dubai welcomed 16.7m international guests, up from 15.9m the year before, according to the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. The top seven tourist-sending nations were India, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Oman, China, Russia and the US.

But even before the pandemic, lower global energy prices, a 30% drop in the city’s real estate market value and trade war fears have led employers to shed staff. The virus outbreak accelerated those losses, especially as Dubai has postponed its Expo 2020, or world’s fair, to next year over the pandemic. That makes reopening for tourism that much more important.

In order to travel, tourists must take a COVID-19 test within 96 hours of their flight and show the airline a negative result. Otherwise, they will be tested on arrival and required to isolate while awaiting the results, which travelers say typically takes a few hours. Travelers must also have health insurance covering COVID-19 or sign a declaration agreeing to cover the costs of treatment and isolation.

 

 

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