UAE tops as most popular tourist destination for Indians

314,495 Indians travelled to the UAE on tourist visas in the first quarter of 2021.

Abu Dhabi: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the most popular destination in the world for Indian tourists, according to figures submitted to Parliament by the Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan.

314,495 Indians travelled to the UAE on tourist visas in the first quarter of 2021 – the latest period for which figures were made available.

The figure represented more than 50 per cent increase from March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to take hold.

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The popularity of the UAE among Indian tourists is clear from the figures for the period when flights resumed in the first three months of this year, albeit on a reduced scale under bilateral bubble arrangements.

Air bubble arrangements are temporary measures for the global movement of passengers pending the resumption of scheduled flights. India currently has air bubble agreements with 31 countries, including the UAE and four other GCC countries.

A total of 536,038 Indians went abroad during the first quarter of last year. This number declined during the same period this year to 393,374. At the same time, UAE’s share of Indian tourist traffic correspondingly rose in excess of 50 per cent.

The second and third most popular destinations for Indians were Thailand and Bangladesh, but their figures were way below those of the UAE.

India continued to be Dubai International Airport’s top destination country by traffic volume in the first half of 2021 with passenger numbers exceeding 1.9 million, despite travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

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