- After some difficult years, North Africa turns out this season's absolute winner on the travel destination market. TUI, Europe's largest travel company, has registered a 34 to 161 percent increase in travels to Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, thanks to these countries' "outstanding value for money."
There were signals even before this year's European holiday season started, indicating that Northern Africa might become a winning destination. British currency exchangers in the beginning of July listed Egypt as "the fastest growing holiday hot spot for 2004" among British travellers after studying the number of currency orders.
What the British predicted, the Germans made come true. TUI, a Germany-based tour operator flying north-west Europeans southwards en masse, now speaks about a veritable tourism boom to Egypt and of considerable growth for Tunisia and Morocco as destinations. TUI is Europe's largest travel company.
- With a growth of 161 percent in sales Egypt is staging a boom, TUI reports in a recent business update. Also Tunisia (45 percent) and Morocco (34 percent) were attaining very high growth rates this summer, TUI reported from Hanover.
TUI called these three North African destinations and Turkey "the winners of this summer season ... thanks to their outstanding value for money." Also British currency exchangers in July pointed to Egypt and The Gambia for travellers "looking for relative value for money." Closer destinations in South and East Europe have given North Europeans less value for their money each and every year.
In addition to the positive effect noticed by the comparative low price level in North Africa, the region is also finally recovering from the post 11 September shock to its tourism industry. Being Muslim countries, very many traditional North European visitors have shied away from Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia during the last years.
Egypt has always been suspect to terrorism attacks and is the first destination tourists avoid in uncertain times. A recovery of tourism for Egypt - Africa's by far most popular destination - therefore often takes the form of a boom.
Stable and calm Tunisia has avoided the most negative attention connecting it to terrorist attacks. The downward trend in world tourism experienced world-wide after 11 September therefore was of a scale comparable to non-Muslim destinations. For Tunisia, there is no talk of a recovery but of a veritable strong growth from already comfortable arrival numbers.
Morocco, on the other hand, after 11 September has had the double burden of last year's terrorist attacks on Casablanca and being set in connection with this year's terrorist attack in Madrid (Spain). A 34 percent growth as reported by TUI thus is both a recovery and an unexpectedly solid result for the country's tourism industry.
The three North African countries yet have to present their own, national statistics on this summer season's developments in the tourism industry. Local media reports however suggest that the results presented by TUI are a good indication of trends this year.
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