Arab Spring: effects on tourism of the Southern Mediterranean Countries

  • 30 August 2012

The countries of the Arab Spring in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean are grappling with serious macroeconomic challenges in a climate of increasing uncertainty. According to a report of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (which has recently expanded its operations in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan), “the economies of these four countries have been hit by the decline in tourism, foreign direct investment and trade, and the investors have adopted wariness in the short term investments”.

Tourism is a large part of revenue in Egypt (27%). The area of ​​South Sinai and the Red Sea represents 70% of revenues from tourism and Sharm el Sheikh alone it covers 40%.

According to the Italian Foreign Ministry, the situation in Egypt (following the attack on a border post in the Sinai) shows elements of danger. The Foreign Ministry stressed that even in the most fashionable destinations (such as Sharm El Sheikh, Marsa Alam and Hurghada) there are new tensions and turbulence in the presence of Bedouin tribes. These tribes are particularly aggressive and responsible for frequent acts of intimidation and violence.

The Jordan’s economy grew unexpectedly by 3% in first quarter of 2012, but the government deficit has increased significantly because of political instability in the regional areas and the increase of energy costs.

In Morocco the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development expected a weaker growth in 2012, (because their close ties with the euro zone). The real GDP rose of the 2.8% in the first quarter of the year, but the existing deficit is expanded.

Tunisia is showing signs of recovery in the first three months of 2012, with real GDP grew by 4.8% on an annual basis (+ 33% in the tourism sector, and +29% of foreign direct investment). At the same time, however, the taxes are raised, link to the increase of social spending.

Turkey benefits for this situation, and it’s become the new El Dorado of Islamic tourism. The geographical position (hinge between Europe and Asia), the wealth of archaeological heritage, the moderate climate, the ease entry permits and, not least, the economic boom that is transforming the country into an emerging power; contribute to attract an increasing number of tourists. Moreover, tourism is one of the economic driving forces of Turkey, which in 2011 was visited by over 31 million people and that, again thanks to the tourism industry in the first half of 2012 achieved revenues of nearly 5 billion euro (+3.8% compared to the same period last year).