Region rallies after slump
The worst seems to over and only good days lie ahead for tourism industry.
This was the opinion of the countries, hotels and tour operators attending the Fourth Mediterranean Travel Fair (MTF), organised by Reed Travel Exhibitions and held in Cairo.
The fourth edition of the show was bigger with the number of countries participating increasing to 36 and Reed hopes that this figure will increase next year.
The Iraq war and the deadly Sars virus struck a major blow on the tourism industry. But with Iraq issue sorted temporarily and the Sars virus contained, the tourism industry is now showing signs of recovery.
Host country Egypt witnessed a great summer.
“Egypt is witnessing a boom,” Egypt Minister of Tourism Mamdouh El Beltagui said.
“The Egyptian tourism industry has weathered the storms and completely recovered from the war on Iraq, the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict and other international predicaments that made tourism sluggish.
“Statistics show that the month of July witnessed a record number of incoming tourists, amounting to 623,000. This represented an increase of 26 per cent compared to the same month in 2002.”
Jordan witnessed a boom from the Arab market after the Iraq war.
“Since the Arabs had problems visiting Europe and the US due to visa restrictions, they opted to visit Jordan,” Jordan Tourism Board director of marketing Waleed Muhajer said.
“We had many visitors from the GCC with Saudi Arabia topping the list. Tourists from Arab countries represented two-thirds of the total tourists.
“We had a definite drop in tourists from Western Europe and the US. But we are working on improving our figures.
Malaysia is targeting Middle East tourists as it slowly recovers from the effects of Sars in the Far East.
“Sars hit Malaysia badly. But tourism demand has begun to increase in July,” says Tourism Malaysia director (overseas) Zalizam Zakaria.
“The demand has continued to be good so far. We are hoping that the demand will be strong next year,” he said.
Cyprus tourism was affected only six per cent by the war on Iraq.
“We have received positive feedback again for our country at the MTF. The Middle East market has been good for us,” Cyprus tourism official Michalis Filis said.
“We also plan to increase flights from the Middle East to encourage our market,” he said.
Morocco plans to launch a huge pan-Arab campaign at the beginning of 2004 to attract more visitors to the country.
By Babu Kalyanpur