Dubai (AsiaNews/ Agencies) - Political instability,
turmoil and Islamic extremism have taken their toll on the countries that
spearheaded the Arab spring.
A study by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) shows
that international tourist arrivals in the Middle East declined by 9 per cent in
2011. Tourist inflows to North Africa slipped more than 10 per cent.
Tunisia and Egypt are among the most affected, with 31
and 32 per cent fewer visitors respectively, a significant drop since tourism
generates 10 per cent of their GDP.
UNTWO chief Taleb Rifai said however that a slow
comeback was taking place. Reservations are up in Tunisia since the start of
During the months of unrest, the tourist sector lost
up to 90 per cent. Next year, things might be back to 2010 levels. In Egypt, reservations
are still at what they were at the end of 2011.
The crisis in Syria has also affected its neighbours. In
the first months of 2012, Jordan saw a 14 per cent drop, Lebanon, 21 per cent.
"The Arab Spring has left an impact," said Khaled
al-Mazroui, general manager of Fujairah International Airport in the United
Local and foreign tourists are going to different
destinations. "Tourists look for safe destinations, in addition of course
to quality services," he explained.
Western but also Arab tourists have in fact flocked in
large numbers to Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi posted a 10-per cent rise in
guests at luxury hotels and hotel apartments in 2011-2012.
Turkey benefitted the most from Arab tourists, with a
400 per cent jump 2011.