The tourism sector in Middle East being the fastest-growing region for airline arrivals last year, it is now suffering a 12% drop due to the Arab Spring unrest. Most beach-loving, sightseeing tourists are opting for a family friendy destination in the face of uncertainty
According to the UN World Tourism Organization, the political instability has prompted a 13% drop in arrivals to North Africa and an 11% fall in the Middle East. Reading these numbers, one has to keep in mind that most of the countries that witnessed instability (such as Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia) over the past months rely heavily on tourism. In Egypt’s tourism sector alone employs 12% of the country’s workforce and in 2008 this sector provided revenues of nearly $11 billion.
Regional instability does not translate to cancelled vacations, however. Instead, it will mean vacationers looking for “safer” alternative destinations. One such go-to country is the UAE. Tourists, who perhaps preferred to visit Egypt or Syria, are now redirecting their itineraries to Dubai or Abu Dhabi where they can still enjoy the Arab culture, traditions, and scenery but without having to worry about their safety and security.
This has reflected in the numbers being reported from the tourism industry in the UAE. According to a report by Gulf News, total revenue from tourism in Abu Dhabi is up while room revenue has increased 4%.
A NEW KIND OF TOURISM?
Until the dust settles in countries witnessing unrest, countries such as UAE will certainly continue to benefit from the Arab Spring—ringing in the profits from tourism and diverted business development. But what happens when the dust settles? It’s not such a farfetched idea to view a new trend of tourism across the Arab World—by then, one would assume it to be replete with new visionary business and political leaders, particularly in countries such as Libya, Egypt and Syria.