Arab Protests Cost Region $7 Billion
The Arab countries of the Middle East and Northern Africa have experienced a drop in tourism as travelers avoid the region during an extended period of political unrest. While the government shakeups may prove good for democracy, they are decidedly bad for business. The number of tourists visiting this region has dropped by double digits, costing more than $7 billion in revenue.
Tourism is a leading world industry accounting for a 5.2 percent of the world economy and creating 1 in 12 jobs nationwide. While the World Tourist Organization (UNWTO) projects that the popularity of international tourism will continue to grow at an average of 4%, the potential share of this region has been dispersed among nearby countries including Europe, Turkey and Greece.
European tour operators, responsible for a bulk of the tours to the Middle East and Northern Africa, also feel the pinch of cancelled bookings as travelers opt for more stable locations. Adding to the downturn are the cancellations of multi-destination tours to avoid a single unsafe location and, in the process, further affecting countries that are considered safe.
Although the decrease in tourism in the more popular destinations such as Egypt and Morocco has provided increased revenue for other countries, these large tourist destinations are optimistic that the decline is temporary. Travelers seem to agree, postponing trips until after the impending election and waiting for a relative state of democracy.