Libya hitting Middle Eastern tourism

Libya hitting Middle Eastern tourism

Tourism ministers from across the MENA region are battling to maintain bookings as the crisis in Libya continues to deepen.

Turkey, Israel, and Malta have all reported a slowdown in interest as the political situation in the region continues to fluctuate.

With a United Nations resolution now in place, aircraft from the United States, France and the United Kingdom have continued to launch sorties against military targets in the country.

On Sunday western forces destroyed one Col Muammar Gaddafi’s command centres in the capital Tripoli as they battled to quell attacks on civilians.

Tourism in the Region

Malta – which has been used as humanitarian base during the month long conflict – has seen bookings drop at a time when a surge is experienced, according to Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) president George Micallef said yesterday.

The slowdown, which has begun before the no-fly zone was announced, was most acute among potential visitors from the UK, and to a lesser extent from France and Italy.

Turkey has also seen a ten per cent drop in bookings, according to the national tourist board, stunting remarkably growth recorded over the previous two years.

In 2010 nearly 2.7million British tourists visited Turkey, an increase of ten per cent on the year before. However, there are now fears the market could falter due to a lack of confidence in national stability.

The Israeli ministry of tourism is also trying to prevent the turmoil hurting the national tourism industry.

“People hear ‘Libya’ and they don’t want to come to the region,” Pini Shani, the ministry’s deputy director of marketing administration, told The Jerusalem Post.

“We demonstrate to people around the world that although Israel is in the Middle East, it’s still a democratic country and a safe place, and life goes on here.”

Libya Outbound Tourism

The turmoil currently engulfing Libya will also harm tourism in Egypt, according to industry officials, with the country just beginning to recover from its own political upheavals.

Some 450,000 Libyan tourists visit Egypt annually, more than any other Arab country, Samy Mahmoud, director of international tourism at the Egyptian Tourist Authority (ETA) was cited as telling Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.

“The region’s share of tourism will shift to other states, such as Turkey, the Emirates and Israel,” he said.