MEA ON THE RISE

Above average tourism growth for Middle East and Africa

With international tourist arrivals up by 10% and 7% respectively, the Middle East and Africa led growth in the world last year according to UNWTO data. This trend is due to continue in 2019 as many countries have introduced measures to simplify entry formalities. Although they represent just 4.8% and 4.5% respectively of all international tourist arrivals in the world, Africa and the Middle East were definitely among winners for world travellers in 2018. Last year, the Middle East recorded 63.6 million international tourist arrivals – up by 10.3% while Africa attracted a total of 67.1 million international travellers, up by 7.3%.

Middle East arrivals were on an upward trend, in uenced by excellent performances from Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In 2017, international tourist arrivals to Egypt were up by 55% and last year this number grew again by 41.5% to over 11 million arrivals. UNWTO declared that tourism to Egypt was the top performer in the world. The country hopes that cultural tourism will jump with the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in 2020.

Another star in the Middle East in terms of international tourist arrivals was Saudi Arabia – up by 30.3% last year. Strong growth should continue as the country now offers e-visas for tourists wishing to visit sport or cultural events.

Africa experienced a strong bounce back in arrivals to countries along the Mediterranean Sea. Tunisia continues to grow at double-digit rates, a situation due to the lifting of travel bans or restrictions by most countries (particularly from Europe) towards the destination. Tunisia international arrivals grew by 23.2% in 2017 and progressed again by an estimated 17.7% last year. Tunisia consequently recorded a total of 8.3 million international travellers, finally overtaking its previous record of 2010. Morocco also performed very well, attracting over 12 million travellers for the first time in history – a growth of over 8%.

Photo: Source: World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)© * Provisional data