NTA Members Monitor Travel to Egypt, Region
February 15, 2012
A year after the advent of the Arab Spring, and with continued political unrest, Egypt’s tourism remains depressed. (Click here for information about 2011 hotel occupancy.) A story in Travel Market Report cites an optimistic projection from the ministry of tourism-with mixed reactions from U.S. tour operators. In the story, NTA President Lisa Simon said the demand to visit Egypt remains strong, and tour operators are playing a waiting game as travelers monitor the situation. NTA members are doing the same.
Lena Olofsson of Galaxia Tours said that Red Sea resorts are doing well, but the rest of the country is suffering from the lack of tourists. "We hope we will be able to increase from here for the sake of our employees and the country," she said. "Although we consider things safe for tourists, we are well aware that the news from here is not always good, and that puts off a lot of visitors."
Despite a yearlong decline in bookings, Chase Poffenberger of Academic Travel Abroad remains upbeat. "Egypt is a destination that has traditionally bounced back very quickly after experiencing disruptions," she said. "Once political stability returns, we expect to attract new travelers who are interested in seeing the country’s iconic sights as well as discussing a burgeoning new democracy with Egyptians from many walks of life."
Ashish Sanghrajka of Big Five Tours & Expeditions expressed long-term optimism, despite what he sees as widespread discounting on trips to Egypt. "The concern is that the people of Egypt are damaging their ability to charge a fair wage for hotels and services in the future," he said. "The silver lining here is that many of us are using this time to design more creative itineraries to Egypt, showcasing the history that is skipped in the normal tourist path."
Egypt’s travel troubles have affected other countries in the region, too, creating even more innovative itineraries, according to Malia Asfour of the Jordan Tourism Board.
"Many tour operators are revamping their itineraries, offering more in-depth experiences that range from cooking with locals to sleeping in Bedouin tents," Asfour said. "And with 2012 the year Jordan celebrates several milestone events, it’s the perfect year to visit and gain a better understanding of the region."