Russian War on Ukraine Affects Middle East Tourism

As Russia continued to fight the war on Ukraine, the consequences of its actions are increasingly being felt in nations around the Middle East, well beyond the grain shortages and soaring food prices that have already caused concern among authorities in the region so far this summer.

As of now, more than a month after Russia started its first war on Ukraine, bilateral sanctions, airspace closures, and supply-line interruptions are forcing food and energy markets throughout the globe to go wild, leading to a spike in global prices. The Russian-Ukrainian war, on the other hand, is having a negative influence on the global tourist sector, since it is interrupting regular travel patterns and expenditure, with some nations being more severely affected than others.

The Middle East, as the birthplace of some of humankind’s most ancient civilizations and as the home of some of the world’s most spectacular modern-day metropolises, offers a diverse and compelling tourist offering. Tourism hubs like Dubai, Cairo, and Istanbul have frequently been listed among the world’s top 10 destinations for tourists. Furthermore, a significant share of the region’s foreign visitors is often made up of Russian and Ukrainian tourists on vacation.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the most popular destination for Russian and Ukrainian visitors, according to a CNN survey. Other popular locations include Egypt, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). While the tourist sectors in Egypt and Turkey have already reported negative repercussions from the conflict, researchers predict that the industry will suffer much greater setbacks in the coming months and years.

According to a Colliers International study published in 2020, Ukraine was the second-largest source market for Egypt prior to the outbreak of the Ebola virus, after Germany. Ukrainian travel to the North African destination nearly doubled in 2019 compared to the previous year, according to the study. According to Egypt’s deputy tourism minister, Ghada Shalaby, when flights to Cairo restarted in July 2021 after the country’s COVID-19 shutdown, Ukrainian visitors were among the first to return to the location.

Russia’s tourism to Egypt has also increased, with 700,000 tourists expected in 2021, after the lifting of a restriction on charter flights between Egypt and Russia in 2015. Due to the suspension of Russian and Ukrainian tourism, Egypt’s tourism ministry is concentrating on luring visitors from other countries, with marketing initiatives aimed at Western Europe and Arab countries for the forthcoming vacation season, according to the ministry. As Shalaby said to CNN, “it is a significant blow…but we are trying to survive.”

Adding to the discussion is Timothy Kaldas, a policy scholar at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy who believes that “a large replacement of visitors from those two nations is definitely doubtful.” “They already have a constellation of issues, which this conflict is further exacerbating,” he said.

According to statistics from the Arabian Travel Market, Russia will overtake the United States as the second-largest source market for Dubai in 2021. (ATM). ATM had estimated that the Russian market would bring in more than $1 billion in revenue for the UAE within four years prior to the invasion of the country by the Ukrainian army.

According to a survey by global market research organization Euromonitor International, Russia will contribute for one percent of outbound tourist expenditure in 2021, which would equal to US$9.1 billion.

According to the company’s Travel Forecast Model, the present collapse of Russian and Ukrainian tourism would have a negative effect on global inbound tourism of US$6.9 billion in 2022, resulting in a possible loss of 0.9 percent. Its estimate also predicted that this would have a negative impact on tourist potential until 2026, however it also said that “all is dependent on how long it takes to negotiate a peaceful settlement.”

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