Chinese and Russian tourists makes up the major Middle East tourists

 Wednesday, January 24, 2018 


launched in Saudi ArabiaAccording to the World Tourism Organization, Middle Eastern tourism in 2017 saw a huge number of Chinese and Russian visitors who boosted the industry rather than the Europeans.




The Mideast region as a whole drew 58 million foreign tourists in 2017 — a 4.8 percent rise on the previous year — the Madrid-based WTO said in its latest figures released midweek. The major factor which caused a slump in the European tourism figures is the fear of the terror attacks, specially the ones that took place on tourist sites in Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey in the recent years.




But “over time, people forget and return,” said Jalel Gasmi, head of Granada Travel Services, a tour operator attending the Fitur international tourism gathering in the Spanish capital. Marcus Lee, heading the Welcome China agency, said the sector could not rest on its laurels despite the annual rise. For Chinese visitors, security “is the first thing they ask about” beyond visa regulations and often poor flight connections in the Middle East, said Lee.




Tourist numbers soared 55 percent last year in Egypt even though European numbers dipped which was taken up by Chinese and the neighbouring visitors from Egypt. Visitor profiles have changed since military man Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in 2014 and especially since the 2011 overthrow of longtime Hosni Mubarak. Earlier to this, the European market, including Russia, accounted for almost 80 percent (of tourists) which has now reduced to about 52%.  Chinese and Indian visitors rose from 5 to 12 percent while tourists from Egypt’s neighbours doubled their share from 15 to 30 percent. Turkey has seen fallout in the business after July 2016 but last year revived its industry. The downside, according to Turkish tour operator Ahmet Okay, is that the newcomers are likely to spend fewer tourist dollars than their EU or US counterparts.


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