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Sayonara, Singapore: G’Day, Dubai

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Guangzhou and Dubai are stopover favourites for Europe-bound Aussies as the delights of cities like Singapore and Bangkok fade.

The Middle East and China are hotting up as our prime stopover choices for a number of reasons, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

Airline evolution is one key driver of the shift. The rise in popularity of Middle Eastern carriers Etihad and Emirates has played a big part in Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s growth as a stopover choice. More Chinese stopover destinations and the introduction of 72-hour visa-free stopovers to Guangzhou in August last year have also seen China’s popularity soar.

China Southern Airlines reported that nearly 40% of its passengers taking up that visa-free option are Aussies and Kiwis. China Southern is packaging Cantonese food and local sights into stopovers.

Greater promotion by the “Dubai publicity machine” was a factor in the Middle East’s rise, according to James Gaskell, managing director of Creative Holidays.

Passengers flying via Dubai and Abu Dhabi can get four- to five-star hotels for an affordable $100 per night. Many choose to use those cities as a base to fly direct into Europe without over-routing to London first.

A trend is emerging for Aussies to lengthen their stopovers into two, three or four-night modules to sample local food, sightsee and visit big attractions, rather than just a one-night sleep-and-shower break.

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