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Tourist markets in many countries are improving, and tourism in the Middle East is picking up momentum

Date: 2020-11-20

Recently, tourism, an important economic pillar of the Middle East, has been slowly improving. On the premise of making full efforts to prevent and control the epidemic, many countries in the region continue to introduce various incentives and preferential policies to promote the recovery of tourism.

The World Tourism Organization recently released a report showing that the number of visitors to the Middle East dropped 69 percent in the first eight months of this year as a result of the outbreak. With the gradual lifting of travel restrictions in many countries in the region, tourism in the Middle East is slowly climbing from the trough and showing the momentum of gradual recovery.

The multinational travel market is starting to improve

Visitors lined up at the entrance to the Egyptian National Museum in central Cairo. "Please wear a face mask" signs are conspicuous here, as are stickers on the ground telling people to keep a social distance. Under the guidance of the staff, reporters were allowed to enter the tour after a series of procedures such as temperature detection, security check and disinfection. Museum staff said that at present, local tourists are the main group of visitors to the museum, and the number of foreign visitors is slowly recovering. Some 400,000 tourists have visited Egypt since it reopened in July, according to the latest figures from the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Recently, Saudi Arabia has promoted domestic tourist attractions such as beaches, mountains and historic sites, encouraging people to visit the country instead of overseas holidays. The average occupancy rate of hotels in Saudi Arabia has increased to 80%. Khaltham Matar, a senior adviser at the Saudi Tourism Ministry, said the focus was on tapping the domestic tourism market amid a limited recovery in international visitor Numbers. With a population of 34 million, Saudi Arabia has huge domestic tourism potential.

In some Turkish cities, hotel occupancy rates have recently rebounded significantly, with significant growth in the number of visitors from Europe. Brak Besselen, a partner at the Uruda Ski Center in the northwestern Turkish city of Bursa, said many international tourists who had planned to ski in Europe have turned to Turkey because of travel restrictions. "Our online pre-sales look positive at the moment. The increase in visitors during the winter is expected to offset the loss in the first half of the year."

At Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates, the terminal that once grounded many flights is bustling again as flights resume, and many of the airport's closed duty-free shops are open again. Paul Griffiths, CHIEF executive of Dubai International Airport, said passenger traffic had now recovered to more than one million a month, up from 85 per cent a year earlier. The gradual resumption of international flights will attract more tourists and boost tourism in regional countries.

Relevant supporting policies have been introduced continuously

Since June this year, many Countries in the Middle East have lifted travel restrictions and resumed their tourist attractions. Countries continue to introduce a series of preferential and incentive measures to promote the recovery of tourism.

Egypt's civil Aviation Minister Manal has announced that visitors to the country will be offered discount tickets for museums and archaeological sites on EgyptAir flights. The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has also encouraged visitors to visit Egypt through online virtual Tours and exhibitions abroad. The Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khalid Anani said there would be more measures to revive tourism in the future.

To develop domestic tourism, the Jordanian Travel Guide Association has launched preferential travel packages for 40 different routes and trips across the country, subsidizing 40 percent of the cost of transportation, meals and accommodation for its citizens, which has been well received by local people.

Israel, for its part, has tried to attract domestic tourists by investing in infrastructure repairs and festivals. The Dead Sea area and the southern resort city of Eilat will be designated as special "tourist islands," Israel's tourism ministry said On Monday, reopening the two areas for tourism and hospitality.

Rafat Nabraoui, former director of the Institute of Archaeology at Cairo University in Egypt, pointed out that during the epidemic prevention and control period, countries in the region introduced various forms of overseas exhibitions and online Tours to introduce local cultural relics and attractions, laying a foundation for attracting tourists to visit in the future.

The Dubai Tourism Authority has been working with Internet companies to promote tourism. Saudi Arabia, for its part, announced a tourism development fund to work with private and investment Banks to develop and promote 38 of the seven destinations.

Strict anti-epidemic measures have also been introduced to reassure foreign tourists. Dubai has introduced "Dubai Guarantee" certification for retail premises, entertainment centres and attractions. Sites that pass regular inspections will be given free signage to ensure strict safety and hygiene standards are followed in the areas visitors come in contact with. Tunisia's Ministry of Tourism and Mobile Industry has launched a "ready and safe" tourism logo to ensure the safety of tourists.

It will take time for the industry as a whole to recover

Some industry insiders pointed out that due to the rich tourism resources in the Middle East and the release of public tourism demand, many countries in the Middle East are expected to see an accelerated recovery trend in the post-epidemic period.

Experts warned that the recovery of the tourism industry is based on the control of the epidemic, so it is crucial to implement the epidemic prevention measures and maintain the epidemic prevention results. At present, the global epidemic is still not over, and the public has little confidence in tourism consumption, which is an important factor hindering the current recovery of international and regional tourism. For some time to come, the recovery of tourism in the Middle East will continue to be tested repeatedly by the epidemic.