IPL: To be or not to be?

To be held from September 19-November 10 in the UAE, IPL is expected to garner a lot of interest among Indian travellers to watch the match live, though it is still unclear if spectators will be allowed in stadiums.

Sports events attract tourists as participants or spectators, and destinations try to add local flavours to them to distinguish themselves and provide authentic local experiences. With BCCI taking IPL to UAE this year, the annual sporting extravaganza can be a litmus test to start tourism movement to the Middle East from India.

The Indian tourism industry is also hopeful to receive appropriate guidelines from organisers on whether or not spectators would be allowed to visit stadiums and watch matches. Indian citizens can currently travel to UAE with any type of valid visa tunder the air travel bubble agreement. With medical insurance and a COVID-19 certificate necessary to travel, visitors are also subject to COVID-19 test in the UAE when they land. According to current guidelines, visitors need to follow self quarantine norms upon arrival. Twenty one matches each are scheduled to take place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, while Sharjah will host 14 matches.

At such a juncture, Jaal Shah, Group Managing Director, Travel Designer Group, believes that Indian travel trade and the tourism industry will have to watch the developments in the coming days to make any estimation. “IPL 2020 could be a litmus test. With UAE allowing Indian tourists and mulling to allow spectators, it could mark an early onset of winter tourist season. After all, Indians account for the highest number of tourist arrivals to the UAE,” he says.

According to Manoj Saraf, Managing Director, Gainwell Travel, Indian travellers are very enthusiastic to travel to the UAE if allowed to watch matches, and there is a lot of buzz around travel packages, hotel deals and all travel arrangements to UAE.

“Their is a lot of enthusiasm for IPL among Indian travellers. We have got a lot of B2B queries, many travel agents have called up to inquire if they can buy match tickets for selling packages for IPL. As of now, there has been no official announcement by the organisers that spectators will be allowed. We are waiting for guidelines to take this further. We have our partners in Dubai and if and when spectators are allowed to watch matches, I think there will be a lot of interest to travel to the UAE, particularly from cities where the country has direct connectivity. On our part, we are ready with the packages,” Saraf says.


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