From Finland’s winter snow adventures to vibrant Taiwan, we shine a light on the five most popular destinations to tick off your go-to list next year
Wondering where to head to next? We’ve got the skinny of the places that are luring intrepid travellers from the emirates. “People in the UAE are becoming increasingly adventurous in their travel choices, with social media a key influencer,” enthuses Emily Williams, head of retail and product at dnata Travel UAE. “There’s a spike in interest for places that are either off-the-beaten-track, long-haul options, or that have not previously recorded as much traction.” Here are the destinations everyone should see at least once…
Bookings to Russia, which became visa-free for UAE nationals in 2019, have risen by a whopping 500% for dnata Travel*, and Moscow is where it’s at. “Russia’s spike in popularity is also partly down to its cooler summer climate and affordability,” explains Emily. “Most travellers are staying in five-star hotels in the capital, with the country’s rich history, famous art and grand architecture driving its allure.”
What’s new: Join the Invisible Moscow immersive walking tour of one of the city’s oldest districts. Pop on your headphones for a movie-like experience that’ll show you the destination through an interactive performance.
Once again crowned the happiest country on Earth, according to the 2019 World Happiness Report, Finland is a chilled haven that begs discovery. “Bookings are up significantly, with UAE residents choosing to travel there in the summer for a glimpse of the Midnight Sun and to see the Northern Lights, with one of the best vantage points being northern Lapland from August to April,” says Emily. “December to March is the best time for winter snow adventures.”
What’s new: Venture deep in the forest to Octola Private Wilderness, a 10-suite log cabin within 300 acres of private land in the Finnish Arctic Circle.
“Following on from the popularity of Japan and South Korea, the number of people venturing to Taiwan is on the rise,” says Emily. “Emirates flies direct to Taipei daily, and travellers go to sample the excellent food, shopping, and hiking opportunities, as well as to meet its friendly people and take in the fantastic scenery.”
What’s new: The 2020 Taiwan Lantern Festival in Taichung (from 8-23 February) has a fantasy forest theme, with lots of arts and crafts activities and entertainment to enjoy.
The Western Cape
“Now visa-free for UAE nationals, South Africa is enjoying a spike in visitors,” says Emily. “Just an 8- to 10-hour flight from Dubai, it has so much to offer, with many people choosing to stay in the Western Cape, which covers the popular Cape Town, Table Bay and the beautiful Garden Route.”
What’s new: Famous for its culinary delights, there has been a flurry of new restaurant openings, including Darren Badenhorst’s coveted Le coin Francais in Franschhoek, which serves French-style dishes featuring regional produce.
“Looking further afield, bookings to New Zealand are on the up, as travellers grow more willing to make the 17.5-hour-long trip with Emirates to reach this beautiful destination, and there’s also the option to fly to Auckland via Bali for a multi-destination trip,” says Emily. “Once in New Zealand, it’s easy to rent a car and drive yourself around.”
What’s new: Keen shoppers will want to head to the newly-expanded Westfield Newmarket, which is causing a stir on the style scene with 200 boutiques over five levels, including Auckland’s first David Jones department store.
Photo Credit: Petri Jauhiainen / Vastavalo for Visit Finland
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