It looks as though the middle east is making a comeback, with G Adventures reporting a 50 per cent increase in trips to Egypt and Jordan.
Globally, numbers for Egypt 7 per cent higher than in 2010, the year before the ‘Arab Spring’ resulted in a complete shutdown of tourism for Egypt and had a profound effect on tourism for neighbouring countries, including Jordan.
G Adventures says the strong booking numbers confirm the return of tourists to these Middle Eastern countries, which are rich in history but have struggled with tourism following the string of political events occurring after the 2011 revolution.
Mohammed Fayed, G Adventures’ regional operations manager for the Middle East and North Africa, said the return of political stability, particularly in Egypt, has resulted in a shift in perception when it comes to safety in the entire region.
“When Egypt’s political state is stable, people feel safe travelling to this region, and adventure travellers tend to lead the way,” he said.
“Since General Sisi became president in 2014, our security level has improved, which has had a positive effect on travel advisories.
“This will have a huge impact on tourism, particularly the kind of tourism G Adventures supports, which keeps traveller’s dollars in the hands of local people through use of local transportation, accommodation and restaurants.
“Egypt relies heavily on tourism for income, and the past few years have been very tough.”
G Adventures employs 10 CEO’s (chief experience officers) to lead its tours in Egypt, and the 10 made a pact back in 2011 to share the tours when tourism dried up. For the past seven years, they divvied up the work between them, depending on who needed it most at that point in time.
“Back in 2011 when tourism was at an all-time low, our CEO’s were only working 40-50 days per year. As tourism has slowly returned, we’ve been able to host more groups, add new itineraries, and increase the average working days for our people to 150 days per year, which is three times what is was a few years ago,” added Fayed.
“Additionally, we’ve employed more CEO’s to run our tours in Jordan and Israel. We’ve just trained 10 new guides to run trips in these countries as demand increases, taking us to 16 CEO’s for these two countries.”
The Middle East has become a particular hotspot for Australian and New Zealand travellers. Egypt and Jordan have both been identified in the top fastest growing regions for G Adventures Kiwi and Aussie travellers, with both destinations seeing growth of over 50 per cent year-on-year.
Adrian Piotto, Managing Director for G Adventures Australia and New Zealand, welcomes the growth.
“The numbers we’re seeing suggest Aussies and Kiwis have renewed confidence in travelling to the Middle East, particularly with the comfort and security that a small-group tour can provide.
“It’s exciting to see the growth coming out of this marketing – countries like Egypt and Jordan are the cradle of modern civilisation, and have so much to offer as destinations.”