With rising cost of travelling abroad, there has been a decline in the number of families travelling this summer and many Qatari and expat families are taking loans to fund their trips, travel industry sources reveal.
Airfares have gone up by 10 to 20 percent compared to last year, making it difficult for families to afford international trips, say travel agents.
The usual summer rush is expected to begin after Ramadan, with most families booking flights starting the first day of Eid-ul-Fitr.
School summer break is coinciding with Ramadan this year, which begins in the middle of July. While many Qatari families prefer to stay here during the holy month, the movement of teachers and expat families to their countries, however, is the same as last year.
Independent and community schools will close on June 26 for summer break, uniting travel plans of many expat families going home.
“Although flights are fully booked, there is no rush now. Most families will begin travelling after Eid,” said a travel agent.
The preferred summer destinations remain France, England, Spain, Morocco and Turkey, with many Arabs increasingly opting for Malaysia and Thailand.
Most Qatari families usually travel in groups that include family members, personal staff and friends. They spend at least a month or two at their preferred summer destinations, while travelling in first class.
“The cost of travelling in business class to Europe starts from QR18,000 and goes up to QR33,000. People on monthly salaries can’t afford airfare for 10 or 15 people, which goes up if you include the cost of staying abroad,” said Ahmed Khalid, a travel agent who did not want to identify his agency.
He said even expat families now take loans to fund their travelling, which can be conveniently paid off in instalments.
Asked about the rise in airfare, an agent who did not want his name in print, said: “The rise in airfare every year is usually because of the tax increase and insurance. This year, most families appear not to be able to afford travelling abroad.”
He said that a common trend these days was to book flights online, where people can sometimes find affordable airfare.
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