KUWAIT: People queue up to receive a dose of the COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Kuwait Vaccination Center in Mishref. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: Everyone wants to travel in summer and many people are already planning their trips, but whether this will be possible is not clear yet, due to the still-raging pandemic. The Eid Al Fitr holiday, which will begin next week, also used to be high season for travelling, but last year was a washout and this year doesn’t seem much different.

According to Ghasan Saleem, Sales Manager at Al-Othman Travel Agency, the situation is not stable around the world. “The situation in most countries is still bad and many are under lockdown, so most people are afraid to travel and don’t want to take the risk, especially now with the new Indian strain of the virus. The situation is not clear yet for this summer,” he told Kuwait Times.

“The majority of our work for the past couple of months was making bookings for domestic workers, and the remaining bookings were for medical treatment and study. Recently we worked on umrah trips, but still not the usual volume. The most popular destinations if people start travelling again will be Turkey, Lebanon and Europe,” added Saleem.

He is pessimistic about travelling this year. “I don’t see any positive signs. The number of travel agencies compared to potential passengers is huge, so business is divided. Before the pandemic, there were 16 direct flights to Turkey weekly, in addition to indirect flights, while now there are only four flights,” he noted.

“Last year, most passengers were flying one-way from Kuwait – expats who left the country. The problem we face is the extremely high ticket prices to Kuwait due to the limited capacity of flights, which is only 35 passengers on board. Also, I think most people are afraid to travel, especially after two Kuwaitis got infected in Turkey and died there, in addition to a Kuwait tourist in Dubai. But I hope that things will get better,” concluded Saleem.

Khaled Abduljawad, Head of Tourism at Musaed Alsaleh Travel, is optimistic. He believes travel this year will rise compared to 2020 by 20 to 40 percent. “Travel during this Eid is not expected. The unstable situation and high ticket prices does not encourage travelling. I expect demand for travel to hike after the recent decision of mandatory vaccination for Kuwaitis who want to travel,” he pointed out.

Abduljawad expects two to three million people will be vaccinated. “I think after vaccinating the majority of the population, the situation will improve, and foreigners will be able to enter the country again,” he said. People want to travel no matter where. “As most people didn’t travel last year, they are willing to travel anywhere. Clients are asking me to book them to any destination that doesn’t require a visa. Dubai is always open, yet they still require a PCR test, even for vaccinated passengers,” explained Abduljawad.

Saled Al-Ruweyih, Sales Manager at Travel Mate, does not expect travel to be any better than last year. “The situation is still bad all over the world. I won’t advise people to risk their health and travel for tourism this summer. Even my friends in Europe are advising me to avoid travelling to Europe now. People in general are worried of the pandemic, especially the new strains of the virus,” he said.

According to him, almost 70 percent of travelers will be flying to Turkey. “Until now only a few clients have made a booking. The majority of them will be travelling to Turkey and the United Kingdom as they have properties in these countries. Even umrah trips are fewer than in previous years as people are still afraid of travelling. I think that around 40 percent of people are willing to travel, while 60 percent aren’t,” stressed Ruweyih.