New research from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed that the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector’s revenues could reach $246bn this year, just 8.9% behind pre-pandemic levels.
In 2019, before the pandemic struck and began to devastate economies around the world, the travel and tourism sector in the region was booming, generating $270bn in revenues.
However, when COVID-19 brought international travel to an almost complete standstill in 2021, its contribution plummeted by 51.1%, suffering a brutal loss of more than $138bn.
The latest research from the WTTC shows that as the region continues to recover from the pandemic, with major markets reopening borders and easing restrictions to travel, the sector’s contribution to employment could almost reach pre-pandemic levels this year.
Furthermore, the research reveals that if countries continue to roll out the inoculation programme at pace this year and restrictions to international travel are eased around the world, 6.8m people could be employed in the sector by the end of 2022, just 40,000 behind pre-pandemic levels.
“The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant losses to the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, but we now have reason for real optimism,” said WTTC President and CEO Julia Simpson.
“Since the start of the pandemic, governments across the Middle East have shown real commitment to travel and tourism. Saudi Arabia in particular has shown strong leadership throughout the crisis and is making a major investment in the sector.”
“2022 is poised for a strong recovery if governments across the region continue to open up their borders and remove restrictions to travel, which will have a massive positive effect on the economy, society, and jobs,” she added.
To get as close to pre-pandemic levels as possible this year, the WTTC says governments around the world must continue focusing on vaccine rollout and allowing fully vaccinated travellers to move freely.
The global tourism body also urges governments in the Middle East and around the world to ditch the patchwork of restrictions and enable international travel using digital solutions that allow travellers to prove their status in a fast, simple, and secure way.
Concerning Egypt, Said El-Batouty — a UNWTO Economic Adviser, Member of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, and Board Member of the German Travel Association — told Daily News Egypt in February that a good reason to be optimistic is that Egypt is one of the first tourist destinations in which recovery has started.
He said that the final figures for 2021 are not available, but he would expect that the number of tourists who visited Egypt during 2021 amounted to about 4.5 million tourists, and it is expected that the number will increase during 2022 to reach about 7 million tourists — assuming the coronavirus does not develop further — and if this happens, Egypt will achieve about $7.2bn in tourism revenues.