The war in Gaza has cripples tourism in the Middle East

The war in Gaza has cripples tourism in the Middle East

The war in Gaza, which has already claimed the lives of more than 30,000 Palestinians and led to catastrophic consequences in this coastal enclave, has hit tourism in a number of countries in the Middle East region. Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt, whose treasury revenues are based primarily on income from tourists, calculate losses.

Lebanon, which almost daily resists Israeli bombing in the south of the country, claims serious losses in the industry. According to the Syndicate of Travel companies and travel agencies, the hotel business suffered the most – hotels, according to various sources, are filled by only 7-10%.

"The hotel sector turned out to be the most vulnerable, its activity decreased by 60-70%," said Jean Aboud, head of the syndicate.

"Many hotels are almost empty, some hotels were forced to close altogether due to the crisis."

The situation is slightly better with apartment rentals, the restaurant business and in the field of car rental. The low tourist season has certainly left its stain, and the authorities hope for a certain revival of the industry during Ramadan (the month of holy fasting for Muslims begins this year on March 10), as well as Easter, which is celebrated by Lebanese Christians. So far, the sector is supported mainly by domestic tourism and tourists from Arab States (they make up 30-35% of all tourists). 

Jordan loses 250-280 million dollars a month. According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of the Kingdom, by the end of 2023, the cancellation rate reached 60-70%. First of all, this is due to the restrain of residents of the USA, Canada and Europe to travel to the region. The industry, which began to actively recover last year after the pandemic and managed to attract almost 6 million foreign tourists to the country, once again found itself among the outsiders after the outbreak of the war in the Gaza Strip. "All joint tourism programs with Palestine have been curtailed," Tourism Minister Makram al-Keisi said. "Since the beginning of the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, foreign tourists have refrained from traveling to the Middle East for security reasons, and this, in turn, poses a great threat to such tourist countries in the region as Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon."

As for Egypt, the Pyramid Country managed to attract 14.9 million tourists to the country last year, and this is comparable to the indicators of the most favorable in terms of tourism in 2010, when a record 14.7 million foreigners visited the country. Despite the fact that due to the war in Gaza and the cancellation of up to 50% of Egypt's bookings in the autumn period, almost 600 thousand tourists were not counted, the state manages to keep the industry afloat and attract visitors to the country. This is mainly due to the development of such areas as medical and wellness tourism, cultural recreation, adventure trips, which are designed to partially replace beach tourism. The strategy for the development of medical tourism was discussed, in particular, at the international conference held in Egypt on March 2-3. Cairo estimates the potential of this product at 15 billion US dollars, with a subsequent increase in profitability in the period up to 2030.
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