Dubai’s ever booming tourism industry has been under severe threat by a second wave of coronavirus infections, even as few places open globally its hospitality sector hopes tourists will keep coming.

Dubai, one of the few destinations open to international travelers since July, has yet to impose the toughest restrictions after record daily infections in the UAE, in the hope that vaccinations will spare a repeat of last year’s lockdown.

But after a rush of visitors during December, hotel chain RIU saw a “significant slowdown” in January bookings in Dubai after some countries tightened entry restrictions for those travelling from the UAE, said Oliver Kluth, SVP Sales & Business Development Indian Ocean.

Reports say British and Israeli tourists largely disappeared from the city’s sandy beaches after the United Kingdom and Israel demanded those coming from the Gulf state to quarantine. Denmark – then Britain – suspended flights from the UAE.

The moves came as daily infections tripled over the past month to hit a record 3,966 on Jan. 28 in the UAE, which is now battling its biggest outbreak since the pandemic begun.

The Gulf state does not give a breakdown for each emirate, but some doctors told Reuters that private hospitals in Dubai were admitting sick patients for the first time in months.

Along with mandatory mask-wearing in public and social distancing, Dubai has further restricted capacity at restaurants and social gatherings and banned live entertainment.

It also limited hotel and shopping centre capacity and reinstated a requirement for all incoming passengers to take a test to prove they are virus-free.


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