According to a CNN Money report, three countries stand out among the rest as being “too frightening” for tourists due to terrorism, violence, and other reasons.
The three countries are Egypt, Tunisia, and Turkey.
I must say, while Egypt and Tunisia don’t surprise me in the least bit, Turkey is a bit shocking.
Sad to say, but Egyptian tourism is all but dead at this point. Two aircraft disasters, an apparent infiltration by ISIS, and political instability have Egypt on its heels.
One of my best friends visited Egypt for two weeks about a year and a half ago and told me sadly he was probably one of the last Americans to visit Egypt for pleasure for quite a while.
According to the report:
Annual visitor numbers peaked above 14 million in 2010 but since crashed to around 9 million last year, according to data from the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization.
Visitor numbers to Egypt are expected to suffer further in 2016.
Market research firm Euromonitor International said visitor arrivals to the country fell by 46% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same time last year.
Additional reading: Lucky over at One Mile At A Time wrote how Turkey is sinking an Airbus A300 in an attempt to bolster tourism by creating an artificial diving reef.
You might also remember a few months later in June 2015, ISIS gunmen went on a rampage outside of the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba in Sousse (now closed). By the end, 38 people lost their lives and 39 others were wounded.
Since the attacks of 2015, around 50 hotels were closed and roughly 50,000 jobs were lost. Most of these hotels were RIU-branded resorts.
Will Tunisia ever bounce back?
Tourism levels in a country tend to take up to two years to recover when a terrorist attack directly targets tourists, according to David Scowsill, CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council.
Tunisia used to welcome about 6 million to 7 million visitors a year before the attacks, but that seems unrealistic for 2016. Airline capacity to Tunisia has been cut by 26% for the summer period, according to the travel intelligence firm ForwardKeys.
Just this past week, Tunisia and the United States signed a $500 million loan guarantee agreement which will give Tunisia access international financing at a rate of 2%, which as the Yahoo! report points out, is well below typical percentages of 7 to 8%.
Perhaps the most surprising country on this list (although not very difficult when compared to Egypt and Tunisia) is Turkey. Personally I’ve never been to Turkey, but friends have visited cities like Istanbul and Antalya and had great things to say.
Turkey is in a tough situation. Multiple terrorist attacks in recent months and the never ending feud with Russia is really putting a damper on the tourism industry there.
Turkey is among the most visited countries in the world, welcoming 40 million tourists last year, according to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization.
President Vladimir Putin has advised Russians to avoid the country and Russia’s Federal Agency for Tourism told travel agents to stop selling tours to the country.
Russia was the second-biggest market for Turkey’s tourism sector, so this immediately cut off about 5 million prospective visitors.
Aside from the Russian tug-o-war, Turkey has to deal with an unruly neighbor – Syria. In my opinion, it’ll be difficult for Turkey, even with strict border controls, to suppress terrorists from entering the country. Due to this, the chance for terrorism increases exponentially as does the reluctance of tourists to visit.
Have you visited any of these countries or are you planning to do so in the future?