UAE has world's least expensive passport and BA returns to Abu Dhabi

UAE has world's least expensive passport and BA returns to Abu Dhabi

After the UAE experienced its worst storm to date, some hotels in Dubai have announced discounted rates for residents in need of a place to stay. And in Abu Dhabi, British Airways has returned with its first flight to Zayed International Airport and its first to the city since the global pandemic.

The UAE passport is ranked as the least expensive globally at $17.70 AUD for 5 years, while British Airways resumes daily flights between London and Abu Dhabi after a four-year pause, offering return fares starting from Dh2,610.

A new study ranks the most and least expensive passports in the world – and the results may surprise you – while in Amsterdam, more plans are in place to curb overtourism.

Here's a round-up of recent travel and tourism news – in case you missed it.

UAE has the world’s least expensive passport
The UAE passport is one of the world’s strongest and now it has claimed another ranking as the least expensive in the world.

Representing fantastic value for money compared to other destinations, the UAE passport is the least expensive travel document in a new ranking of costs by Australian price comparison website Compare the Market.

At just $17.70 Australian dollars – the UAE passport is valid for five years, meaning travellers only need to pay $3.54 per year. The document is also one of the world’s most powerful passports,

with holders able to visit 183 destinations visa-free. This represents the best value for money in the study, as travellers are essentially paying $0.15 per country that they can travel to without a visa.

India has the second least expensive passport in the world at a cost of $18.07, valid for 10 years but with access to only 62 countries. Hungary rounds out the bottom three on the list with passport fees of just $20.75 for a five-year document that gives travellers visa-free access to 188 destinations.

At the other end of the scale, Mexico has the world’s most expensive travel document. Passport holders in the North American country need to pay USD$231.05 for a 10-year passport, working out at $23.11 per year, and with visa-free travel to 162 destinations, 21 less than UAE passport holders have access to.

Despite having powerful passports, nations such as Australia, the US and Canada did not perform well in the study because of high passport fees relative to other countries.

British Airways returns to Abu Dhabi after four-year pause
British Airways has resumed non-stop flights between London and Abu Dhabi after a four-year hiatus. On Sunday, BA landed in the UAE capital with a Boeing 787-9 flight from London Heathrow, touching down at the recently opened Zayed International Airport.

Britain’s national airline will operate daily flights between the two capital cities. Flights are scheduled to land in Abu Dhabi at 8.30am and in London at 3.20pm.

It’s the first time the airline has operated to the UAE capital since the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We extend a warm welcome to British Airways as they start operating at Zayed International Airport with a daily schedule that promises to enrich connectivity and invigorate both business and tourism. Our new award-winning and cutting-edge terminal offers visitors an unparalleled introduction to the vibrant UAE capital, where they will be greeted with Emirati hospitality at its finest,” said Elena Sorlini, managing director and chief executive at Abu Dhabi Airports.

Flights between London and Abu Dhabi will operate with four cabin classes – including premium economy and first class. Return fares start from Dh2,610 and flight times are around seven hours.

Dubai hotels offer discounted rates for flood-affected residents
In the aftermath of the UAE's worst storm, Dubai residents affected by last week’s record flooding may be able to seek assistance from hotels in the city.

Premier Inn Dubai has announced a discounted room rate for people in need of a safe, affordable place to stay.

Travellers can check in to branches at Dragon Mart, Silicon Oasis, Dubai International Airport and Dubai Investment Park for five or seven-night stays. Rates for bookings start from Dh895 or from Dh1,250 for a seven-night stay.

Since announcing the offer, Premier Inn has booked 104 nights under the special rate. Premier Inn Dubai International Airport remains fully booked on Monday, but has limited availability for tomorrow.

There's also 20 per cent off food and drinks at the hotel's restaurants and room service for Dubai residents affected by the storm. Rates are available until May 5 and bookings can be made via phone or walk-in requests.

“Amid the aftermath of this week's unprecedented storm, many Dubai residents are facing challenges. As part of Premier Inn's Force For Good programme, we are dedicated to support our community and provide a safe, welcoming refuge during these extraordinary times,” said Simon Leigh, managing director of Premier Inn Middle East.

Homegrown Rove Hotels group, known for its affordable properties in central locations, is also offering a 30 per cent discount on accomodation for those in Dubai impacted by the floods. The rate is available for stays up to May 4 and applicable at all Rove hotels in Dubai with availability.

Al Habtoor Group – which owns several hotels in the city including V Hotel Dubai,Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City and the Habtoor Grand Resort – has hosted several families affected by the storms in its hotels free of charge.

“A number of Emirati families from Dubai whose homes were damaged have already been hosted at the Group's hotels in Al Habtoor City,” said chairman Khalaf Al Habtoor in a statement on Friday.

Amsterdam puts the brakes on new hotel plans
Famed for its beautiful canals, thriving food scene and endless parades of bicycles, Amsterdam wants to halt the number of tourists visiting each year by putting a ban on new hotels.

The City Council in Amsterdam has voted to prevent any new hotels from being constructed in a bid to combat overtourism. It's all part of a new “Amsterdam in Balance” campaign that aims to prevent problems caused by high quantities of visitors.

Officials want hotel stays to remain fewer than 20 million per year, a number that had already been surpassed in 2019, before the pandemic, when 25.2 million tourists spent at least one night in the Dutch city.

Under the rules, new hotels will only be allowed to open in Amsterdam if another closes. And developers will not be allowed to add additional guest rooms to a hotel's portfolio. Hotels that have already had approval to launch, can proceed with development plans. Officials are also encouraging developers to look for destinations outside the crowded city centre.

Amsterdam has recently tried to reduce tourism by restricting other behaviours, including closing bars and clubs earlier, converting former hotels into residential properties, placing limits on canal cruises and banning some cruise ships. 

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