Egypt – with its economy hard hit by a major fall off in tourism – is using the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai to encourage more people from the Middle East to holiday there.
Visitor numbers are around a third of the almost 15 million they reached in 2010, before the 2011 uprising. Fewer than 5.5 million people visited Egypt in 2016. Around 36 percent of visitors to Egypt last year were from Arab countries.
Hisham El Demery, Chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board, insists the country is safe but admits they have an image problem: “One of the many challenges, actually, that the country has been facing over the past few years, is to have the right image about the country, to correct and portray the image of our country.”
Despite political conflict and violence in the region the World Tourism Organisation says the Middle East and North Africa is set to become a tourist hotspot, creating jobs and boosting economies.
The challenge for countries like Oman is broadening its appeal. Her Excellency Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary at the Oman Ministry of Tourism, told Euronews: “We have segmented different types of tourism so we have focused as well on family-oriented tourism, cultural tourism and adventure tourism.”
Several destinations taking part in the Arabian Travel Market have introduced visa-on-arrival schemes for people from countries including China, Russia and India.
Dubai is one of those with a major focus on increasing visitor numbers in the run up to Expo 2020 world fair.
Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Tourism, told Euronews they are looking to raise the total number of visitors from the current 15 million: “Twenty million by 2020 is the first milestone. And of course we are building a lot of infrastructure, theme parks, amusement parks, hotels, roads and transport and the networking within the airport, all of it will be leveraged to really benefit Expo 2020.’”
Dubai, and others, are looking beyond their traditional visitor source markets – such as the Gulf region, China, Britain and Germany – and expanding their marketing to attract visitors from places like Indonesia and Malaysia and even South Korea.