By Karen Leigh
Tour operators in the UAE haven’t seen 'one request’ for Egypt, Tunisia since uprisings
UAE travel agents said business to Egypt has shown no sign
of pick-up in the weeks since violent unrest engulfed the tourism-dependent
“I haven’t had one inquiry [for Egypt travel] since the
trouble began,” Mark Reed, general manager at Arabian Pacific, told Arabian
Before the crisis, which saw crowds of demonstrators topple
President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, he had at least two vacation-related inquiries
This comes despite several weeks of peace in the country,
and the emergence of Tahrir Square – the heart of the protest zone – as an
unlikely tourist destination for Egyptians themselves.
“It’s slow – we don’t have tourists wanting to go. It’s
because of the unrest,” said a manager at another large Dubai-based tourist
company, who asked to remain anonymous.
Lack of interest
from Gulf tourists is a major blow to the Egyptian economy, which sees one in
eight of its 88 million population employed by the tourism industry. Tourism
also generates close to $11bn of its GDP, and is widely recognised as the
backbone of its economy.
approximately 12.5 million tourists visited the North African country, making
the tourism industry one of the top sources of foreign revenue, accounting for
more than eleven percent of GDP.
Tunisia, another hugely popular tourist destination, has
also seen its business plummet in the weeks since it set off a domino effect of
protests across the Arab world, and more violent unrest this week will make its
recovery even slower. Libya – once a destination for the hardiest adventure
travelers – is now a no-go zone.
“We’ve had nothing for Tunisia, and we had one client we
were trying to get out of Libya,” Reed said. “If it’s non-essential travel
people aren’t tending to be going. I can’t remember the last Tunisia flight I
The agency has seen a spike in requests for destinations in
Asia, Reed said, which has absorbed the runoff from North Africa.
It is quite expected, though I wouldn't compare Tunisia with Egypt, as both have two different markets which they cater to.
For Egypt, this duration of the year is mainly for the European market, as the weather is cold there and they would move to a warmer climate. That has started to pick up. Concerning the UAE market, it is mainly for Egyptian expats either moving back home in summer time; or other nationalities moving out of the UAE heat into milder climate.
I think sometimes agents would tend to forget such trends, especially when there are such incidents and the focus is on the unrest, economical figures and revenues lost.
For Tunisia, the UAE is the market for it at all. It is less than an hour flight from most European destinations and a famous weekend getaway. Also, still early for Tunisians to travel back home, as the holiday season is usually in summer time.