This report will briefly raise awareness of what the Arab Spring therefore to be able to have a much better understanding on how it affected tourism and still has a big effect. A country’s tourism can also be affected by neighbor countries contemporary issues, so it is essential to be aware of what countries were affected by the Arab Spring so all the impacts on Egypt’s tourism is clearer. The report will cover the current situation of tourism in Egypt and predictions for the future.
What is the Arab Spring?
The Arab world which is located in North Africa and the Middle East has few countries which are international tourism destinations such as Egypt, Morroco, Tunisia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. The Arab Spring is a series of revolutions against dictatorship regimes that have been ruling the countries for many years without any democracy or justice for the country’s people, this political issue has massive impacts on the people of the country. As tourism is such a huge income for many countries, the people never got benefited from it. All income used to go the corrupted governments. So the people in the Arab World revolted against their governments to get their basic rights in better living and get their freedom of speech.
What countries did it affect?
The Arab spring has affected some of the mentioned tourist destinations, it started off with Tunisia in January 2011 then followed by Egypt in February 2011, and then in March 2011; “as Libya erupted into civil war, and anti-government protests in Syria continue to be violently put down Europe’s holidaymakers have, perhaps understandably, been less willing to visit the wider region.” BBC (2011) The tourism in the Arab world was mainly affected by these revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia; they are very popular destinations the British tourists too. It affected Tunisia as it was the first country to revolt against its regime , even though the Tunisian revolution was not as bloody as other neighboring countries as “At least 219 people died during the protests” BBC(2011). Tunisia’s change of regime process was successful in a short time and it has recovered from losses and gained many tourists back. The case was slightly different Egypt as its tourism was the most affected by the revolutions.
Egypt is a strategic country in the area and it has such a high importance to neighboring countries that is because of its strategic location and size of the country. Throughout history Egypt is known as the strength of the Arab world. So due to Egypt’s magnificent importance is had so much politics involved in its revolution from foreign countries. This led Egypt’s revolution to become even bloodier but the regime was taken down within 18 days only; over 800 people were killed by Egyptian regime forces in the 18 days. This affected tourism as “popular beach resorts such as Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh were left deserted in the early part of the year, as holiday companies evacuated European tourists.” BBC 2011 Libya’s civil war that also started as a revolution had a massive impact on tourism in Egypt as it shares the western borders of Egypt. And the north west of Egypt on the Mediterranean Sea has tourist attractions such as Marsa Matrouh, Wahat and the White desserts.
Morocco and Oman have been slightly affected by the revolutions, with Morocco it is because of Tunisia’s revolution as they share borders and also bombing that took place in April 2011 in Marrakesh, one of the major cities in Morocco; 15 people died in the bombings, and the bombing were later announced that they were also against the regime. Omar only got affected as its neighboring country Yemen had a revolution that was quite bloody too. The United Arab Emirates is one of the most important tourist destinations in the region. The Arab spring had a very minor effect on the country’s tourism as it did not have a revolution but tourists in countries such as the Americas and Eastern Asia and some European countries were still slightly worried to visit any Arab country as it could be hit by the domino effect of the Arab Spring. UAE is not a neighboring country of any of the countries that had revolutions but it is in the same region.
Tourism in Egypt
Egypt is known to be the number one tourist destination in the Middle East and North Africa. It has been for years and obviously this is because of its ancient Pharos history, and pyramids in Giza and other historical sites and Luxor and all over the country has attracted tourists from around the world and for many years to visit these attractions that were built around 7000 years ago. Egypt’s tourism now is not just about cultural about heritage but it also has sun, sea and sand tourism on its beautiful beaches on both seas, the Mediterranean and the red sea. Egypt’s tourism is also very popular with its Nile cruises from Alexandria to the Upper Egypt of Luxur and Aswan via the capital Cairo.
Revolution’s impacts on Egypt’s tourism
“Egypt’s revolution has scared away millions of foreign tourists, the lifeblood of the nation’s economy, and now this ancient kingdom of tombs resembles a ghost town.” These were some of the first words in an article in The Washington Post (2011). A statement that describes the revolution’s impacts on tourism in Egypt, even though the actual revolution days were only 18 but that was not the end as many incidents happened in the following months that led to more killings where. “Visitor numbers declined by some 37% to reach close to 9 million compared to over 14 million in 2010” Euromonitor (2012) This massive decrease in the number of visitors affected Egypt’s tourism in all its sectors, accommodations, car rentals, transportations and all its attractions. This led all tour operators to introduce massive discounts on its products and services and offer cheap holidays. The outbound tourism in Egypt was not affected as much as the inbound as the number of outbound foreign trips only falling by 13% in the year or 2012.
This is caused by two reasons; the first is the pilgrimage (Hajj) in Saudi Arabia for Muslims so thousands of Egyptians travelled to Egypt towards 2011. The second reason is that many wealthy Egyptians travelled out of Egypt to try to get away from the unrest and the unsafe situation that was taken place in Egypt. So the outbound trips helped some of the tour operators to survive and also were a lot of help to the Egyptian airlines. Egypt air fares rose during the revolution times and throughout the year of 2011 and that are because the decrease in the amount of visitor numbers to and out of Egypt. The reason for this is that Egypt Air’s flights were going to Egypt and were not full at all so they were not getting enough customers to make money so the ticket prices were increased. Egypt Air’s lost $170m during the revolution. Bikya Masr (2011) After deep research figures of Egypt’s tourism money loss from the revolution over all was not found. But few figures of losses were found such as the loss in the 18 days of the revolution when the crowds and protests took over Tahrir square, was £1.7 billion. So losses were in billions.
In the news agency of Al-Shofra (2012) it was mentioned that according to Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, “more than 5.2 million tourists entered Egypt during the first six months of 2012, an increase of around 27% over the same period last year.” On the same website of the tourism agency, The Middle East News Agency quoted the mister as saying that the number of Russian tourists visiting the country this year rose by 80%, Polish tourists by 66%, German tourists by 30%, Danish tourists by 71% and Norwegian tourists by 101%, while the number of tourists from the Middle East rose by 36%.
The revolution of Egypt has given Egypt the reputation of a hero for being able to topple the regime after 60 years of dictator ship. Egypt being all over the news for few months has also raised awareness about the country and its tourism. Therefor many people liked to visit the country after the legendary revolution. The Tahrir Square has become a tourist attraction is it became the symbol of the revolution. Also many people were banned to go to Egypt because of the old regime’s politics have now got their rights to go back to the country and visit it at all time so that has changed reasons for why people visit Egypt.
The points that were covered on the report have been put into an order for the reader to be able to have a full understanding of the Arab Spring, the cause of it, where it took place, the advantages and the disadvantages of it. The report covered it these series of revolutions were a domino effect and what countries it hit and what countries got affected by it. From this report it was understood that the most country’s tourism affected by the Arab Spring was Egypt, and how it started recovering from it already and how it still has a long future of success and how the revolution was for the better for the country’s tourism.
Al- Shorfa (2012) http://al-shorfa.com/en_GB/articles/meii/features/2012/07/25/feature-02 2012 BBC, Arab nations aim to win back tourists (2011) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15651730 2011 BBC, Tunisia protests against Ben Ali left 200 dead, says UN (2011) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12335692 2011 Bikya Masr (2011) http://www.bikyamasr.com/30709/egypts-airline-industry-lost-170m-during-revolution/ 2011 Euromonitor (2012) http://www.euromonitor.com/travel-and-tourism-in-egypt/report 2012 The Washington Post, Tourists stay home after Egypt’s revolution in blow to nation’s economy (2012) http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-04-16/world/35231815_1_tourists-egyptians-qena 2012