By Noel Swain
After a long wait, the UAE opened its borders and lifted the ban on travellers from India. With flight services now operational, it is the perfect time for travellers to resume international travel with a trip to the much awaited ‘Dubai Expo 2020’. Dubbed to be the World’s Greatest Show, the Dubai Expo is scheduled to be held from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.
While frequent travellers are expected to be well versed with the conventional drill of international travel, a fairly different experience awaits as many prepare to set off for maiden international trip since in the post-pandemic world.
Here’s a smart checklist of things to remember for international fliers.
1. The first port of entry
While several aspects of travel have changed but all international trips begin with getting a visa. Accurate paperwork for visas and passports is the most important thing to complete from your travel checklist. While the process of procuring a visa might sound time-consuming and laborious, VFS Global has you covered. Having been associated with the UAE government through Emirates Airlines since 2002, VFS Global facilitates visa services for travellers on the flagship carrier in 16 countries worldwide through visa application centers in Afghanistan, Algeria, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Turkey and UAE. Travellers on Emirates or travel agents applying on behalf of customers can walk in and apply for the UAE visa. VFS Global also offers visa online application services on emirates.com enabling residents from over 180 countries to apply for their UAE visa conveniently
2. Book now or rue later
The next crucial step to experience the mega cultural gathering is booking your tickets early. This way you can seamlessly explore your chosen itinerary at the Expo. The Expo 2020 Dubai offers a variety of passes to suit everyone’s needs; from standard tickets including one-day passes, premium experience to bundle tickets including family packages and Jubilee Experience. You can book your spots via VFS Global, an authorised ticket reseller for Dubai Expo 2020 in GCC, India, China, Russia, UK and Germany.
3. Beyond passports and Visas
Even as covid-19 cases have come down, updates on Covid-19 credentials along with vaccination status have become a mandatory requirement for all forms of travel. Currently, Dubai-bound, travellers must present a valid negative Covid-19 Test certificate issued within 48 hours from the time of collecting the sample and from an approved health service provider, which use the QR code System, as well as Rapid PCR Test report conducted at the departure airport 6 hours prior to departure, provided with a QR code system. No GDRFA or ICA approval is required for tourists travelling to the UAE. Travellers will be asked to present proof of any needed testing, quarantine, or isolation duration in both their departure and destination countries. One may be unable to enter or leave the nation, as well as board any airline, if they fail to present these documents. Since these regulations are subject to change, travellers are advised to visit respective airlines and government website prior to departure.
4. The crucial Expo Itinerary
Dubai Expo 2020 is a full action-packed event whether you’re seeking business prospects, want to express your creativity, explore a world of flavours, or let your inner techie go, there’s always something to be excited about. To avoid the stress of missing out on an experience, it’s best to schedule your preferred activities at the Dubai Expo ahead of time. The Expo offers a plethora of interesting experiences like indoor rainfall of the Netherlands pavilion, cuisines from about 200 restaurants, grand operas, theatre shows, concerts, retail therapy from exclusive brands and many more.
5. Befriend tech and contribute to saving the planet
Post pandemic, the travel and hospitality industry has undergone tremendous steps to enhance traveller’s confidence by providing services that are touch-free and contactless as well as feasible. Contactless services are becoming the standard rather than the exception; from digital payments, remote application submission, digital gateways to facial recognition for quicker access, travel today truly is end-to-end digital. Thus, travellers must warm up to the idea of using contactless services and find comfort and ease while operating new age technology that guarantees travel safety. On the other hand, going digital also unknowingly promotes green travel, a habit that has been in our minds but hadn’t been executed so far. The Travel Industry uses technology to find possibilities and create solutions that will help travellers recognise the long-term environmental benefits of prudent travel. The endless paper trails are now concise and put together only a click away from submission, making it efficient to embark on the green journey.
Even with an array of changes in travel given the pandemic, our will to travel is still vital. Having said that, Expo 2020 Dubai is also a once in a lifetime experience and not having to enjoy the journey to the fullest due to poor planning can be a disappointment. Hence, keep this checklist handy and make the most of your awaited international vacation.
(The author is Business Head – Schengen, eVisa and Passport Services, VFS Global. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)