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The New Arab

British travel agency to add more holidays to Egypt, Turkey

Thomas Cook predicts a returning popularity to Turkey and Egypt [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2018

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After suffering a blow in the tourism industry following terror attacks, travel warnings and flight suspensions, tourism demand for Egypt and Turkey is expected to rise again.

A growth in airline business has prompted British travel company Thomas Cook to add more holidays to Egypt and Turkey after previous travel warnings had caused a drop in tourism.

Thomas Cook is expected to meet a 12-month operating profit of £354 million at the end of September 2018, with plans to boost capacity by 10 percent in its airline business to meet growing demand from British and German travellers.

The returning popularity this year of holidays to Egypt and Turkey will help offset the margin pressure on holidays to Spain, the company said.

Terrorist attacks in Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey in recent years have hit the tourism industry particularly hard. Last year, tourism in the Middle East was boosted by record numbers of Chinese and Russian tourists, following a slump in 2016 after Europeans were driven away by security fears.

Even as tourism numbers from Europe dipped, Egypt saw a 55 percent rise in tourists last year with Chinese visitors and those from neighbouring countries taking their place.

Visitor profiles have changed dramatically since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in a 2013 military coup, and especially since the 2011 overthrow of long-time Hosni Mubarak.

Before then, "the European market, including Russia, accounted for almost 80 percent (of tourists) but now, 52 percent", said Hesham El Demeiry, head of the Egyptian tourist authority.

He added that Chinese and Indian visitors rose from 5 to 12 percent while tourists from Egypt's neighbours doubled their share from 15 to 30 percent.

After a fallout from the July 2016 coup, which saw visitor numbers slide by a third, Turkey saw a similar rise last year.

Ankara is out to keep on attracting more visitors from Russia, whose tourists poured in during 2017, as well as neighbours including Iran and Ukraine. 

The downside, according to Turkish tour operator Ahmet Okay, is that the newcomers are likely to spend fewer tourist dollars than their EU or US counterparts.

Tunisia is also on the way back thanks to a surge in Russian and Chinese visitors, with a 23 percent rise in visitors last year over 2016.

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