Saudis pack their bags and prepare for bumpy takeoff
JEDDAH: With summer knocking on our doors, Saudi travelers will be heading to the Kingdom’s airports on their first international trips in over a year – but many face challenges.
After more than 14 months of international flight bans, the Saudis are ready to don their blue disposable masks and use their airline miles on May 17.
Nearly 11.5 million people in the Kingdom have received at least one vaccine against COVID-19 and more than 400,000 recoveries have been reported by the Saudi Ministry of Health.
While some Saudis have limited their vacation or business destinations to the safest areas due to COVID-19 protocols, many are not deterred by the challenges ahead and are eager to buckle up.
Planning a vacation in the coming months will be far from easy – choices are limited and quarantine measures are in place at a number of popular summer vacation destinations. However, many tourists are still willing to travel and face the music.
In the wake of the global pandemic, countries and individual travelers are wary of restrictions. But even with a massive vaccine rollout in place and authorities making travel abroad easier for those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered from the disease, many Saudis are choosing to move closer to home.
“As soon as we learned that Bahrain was allowing the Saudis to enter without the quarantine, we ran to book our hotel and our tickets, but they were full for the first week,” Maha Al-Hussain, 34, said. from Riyadh.
“My family and I have been fortunate enough to visit Jeddah from time to time, but we would like the kids to be able to roam free and swim all day, so everyone can just take a break.”
My family and I have been looking for a new and different place to travel for a few days now and my dad insisted that we do, especially since we are all vaccinated.
The mother-of-three told Arab News that although it is difficult to book flights for seven people at the moment, the family decided to make the four-hour drive to Bahrain and hope for entry. sweetness to the pavement of King Fahd.
“All adults are vaccinated and our children now know the rules,” she said. “We went through hardships like everyone else this year. Travel is important to all of us and we have been very careful throughout it. We will continue to be careful until we get home.
Previously, Bahrain announced that all visitors to the GCC who are fully vaccinated or recovered are no longer required to undergo a PCR test upon arrival, but must show proof of vaccination or recovery.
For the Saudis, a little more care and attention is being given, with a welcome campaign launched by the neighboring island kingdom with the slogan “walahna alaikom” or “we missed you”.
While the status of travel to the 20 countries on the list remains in place, airlines are poised to operate normally to many cities around the world, although a number of countries are restricting arrivals.
Several EU member states have limited arrivals from outside the EU, while others allow visitors to return but with restrictions.
Greek Ambassador to the Kingdom Alexis Konstantoloulos announced on Friday that Saudis wishing to travel to Greece will be able to do so with a negative PCR test or vaccination certification and by filling out a passenger locator form.
“Welcome our Saudi friends, Greece awaits you,” he tweeted.
Pre-travel PCR testing performed no more than 72-48 hours prior to arrival, travel insurance, five to 10 day quarantine on arrival at traveller’s expense, and post-arrival PCR testing are part of the requirements requested by a number of EU Member States, but numbers are limited as many countries restrict non-essential travel.
The United Kingdom, a favorite destination for many Saudis, will have to isolate itself on arrival as Saudi Arabia remains in its amber category. The list will be reviewed every three weeks, according to UK officials.
Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, Russia, Spain, Poland, Vietnam, the Czech Republic and Belgium are among the countries that are still suspending international tourist arrivals.
Citizens are urged to review travel restrictions for each destination as each country requires a different set of requirements before travel and upon arrival.
“Dubai is next,” said Yousef A., 32-year-old public relations manager. “I have visited Dubai on several occasions in recent years and it has become like a home from home for me and my family,” he told Arab News. .
“I have done my homework. Saudi Arabia is on the UAE’s safe ‘green list’ and no quarantine is required. As soon as Saudi authorities allow it, this will be my next destination.”
The search for relaxed COVID-19 restrictions has continued for weeks after news was confirmed that the Kingdom’s travel ban would be lifted on May 17, but it’s a struggle, as Kholoud Yousef explained , 27, at Arab News.
“We had originally planned to travel to Bali in the first week after the ban was lifted, but when we learned that we had to quarantine ourselves for five days and take two PCR tests, we realized it would take a good part of our vacation. and we don’t want to be locked in our hotel rooms, ”she told Arab News.
“My family and I have been looking for a new and different place to travel for a few days now and my dad insisted we do, especially since we are all vaccinated.
We’re putting Bali on hold for now and heading to Morocco next week, and it was an easy choice. All we needed was a confirmed hotel reservation. It feels good to know that we can travel again. Hope it will be a great trip.