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The UAE has the cheapest passport in the world and BA is returning to Abu Dhabi

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

A new study ranks the most expensive and least expensive passports in the world – and the results may surprise you – as plans to curb overtourism are ramping up in Amsterdam.

Here’s a roundup of recent travel and tourism news – in case you missed it.

The UAE has the cheapest passport in the world

The UAE passport is one of the strongest in the world and has now claimed another ranking as the cheapest in the world.

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

For just $17.70 Australian dollars, the UAE passport is valid for five years, meaning travelers only have to pay $3.54 per year. The document is also one of the most powerful passports in the world, with holders able to visit 183 destinations visa-free. This represents the best value for money in the study, as travelers essentially pay $0.15 per country they can travel to without a visa.

India has the world’s second cheapest passport, costing $18.07, which is valid for 10 years but allows entry 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 travelers visa-free access to 188 destinations.

At the other end of the scale, Mexico has the most expensive travel document in the world. Passport holders in the North American country must pay $231.05 for a 10-year passport, which works out to $23.11 per year, and with visa-free travel to 162 destinations, that’s 21 fewer than what UAE passport holders can afford have access.

Despite having strong passports, countries like Australia, the US and Canada did not perform well in the survey due to high passport fees compared to other countries.

British Airways returns to Abu Dhabi after a four-year hiatus

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 on a Boeing 787-9 flight from London Heathrow, landing at the newly opened Zayed International Airport.

The British flag carrier will operate daily flights between the two capitals. The flights are expected to land in Abu Dhabi at 8.30am and in London at 3.20pm.

It is the first time the airline has flown to the UAE capital since the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We warmly welcome British Airways as they begin operating at Zayed International Airport with a daily schedule that promises to enrich connectivity and boost both business and tourism. Our new award-winning and state-of-the-art terminal offers visitors an unparalleled introduction to the UAE’s vibrant capital, where they will be greeted with the best of Emirati hospitality,” said Elena Sorlini, Managing Director and Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Airports.

Flights between London and Abu Dhabi operate in four travel classes, including premium economy and first class. Return fares start from Dh2,610 and the flight duration is approximately seven hours.

Hotels in Dubai are offering discounted rates for residents affected by floods

In the wake of the UAE’s worst storm, Dubai residents affected by last week’s record flooding may seek help from hotels in the city.

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

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

Since the offer was announced, 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 is also a 20 percent discount on 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 by phone or walk-in request.

“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 committed to supporting our community and providing a safe, welcoming haven in these extraordinary times,” said Simon Leigh, Managing Director of Premier Inn Middle East.

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 accommodated several storm-affected families in its hotels for free.

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

Amsterdam is putting the brakes on new hotel plans

Famous for its beautiful canals, thriving food scene and endless parades of bicycles, Amsterdam wants to stem the number of tourists visiting each year by banning new hotels.

The Amsterdam city council has decided to prevent new hotels from being built to combat overtourism. It’s all part of the new ‘Amsterdam in Balance’ campaign, which aims to prevent problems caused by large visitor numbers.

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

According to the rules, new hotels in Amsterdam may only open if another hotel closes. And developers are not allowed to add additional guest rooms to a hotel’s portfolio. Hotels that have already received approval to launch can proceed with development plans. Officials are also encouraging developers to look for destinations outside the busy city center.

Amsterdam has recently tried to curb tourism by restricting other behavior, including closing bars and clubs early, converting former hotels into housing, placing limits on sightseeing cruises and banning some cruise ships.

Updated: April 22, 2024, 10:53 am