International tourists to Middle East, North Africa to triple in 2030

Published on : Friday, January 22, 2016

International touristsDespite concerns over security, the number of international tourists to the Middle East and North Africa will triple to 195 million in 2030, the head of the United Nations tourism body said Thursday.

“Our long term forecast for 2030 is that the Middle East and North Africa will receive 195 million international tourists. That is triple the amount that we receive now,” said Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the UN World Tourism Organisation.

He was speaking at the Madrid international tourism fair FITUR.

Rifai added, “The story of tourism in the Middle East is a story of mixed description. It is a success story without doubt. Today we have over 60 million international visitors coming to the Middle East. This is a growth that has tripled in less than ten years.”

International tourism arrivals in North Africa was down by 8% due to deadly attacks in Tunisia while the Middle East grew for the third consecutive year in 2015, expanding by 3%.

The number of international visitors to Tunisia fell to 5.2 million last year from 7.2 million in 2014.

But Rifai, pointed to the example of Egypt, which has repeatedly managed to rebuild confidence and revive tourist numbers after attacks. Egypt suffered a slump in visitors last year following the crash of a Russian airliner on October 31 over the Sinai Peninsula that killed all those on board.

The tourism sector in the Middle East and North Africa, a key source of jobs and foreign currency, has repeatedly bounced back after attacks by extremists that frightened off visitors, said Rifai.


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