The Institute of International Finance predicts that the wider MENA region will not return to pre-pandemic tourism numbers until 2023
Washing DC-based think-tank, the Institute of International Finance (IIF), foresees that the tourism sector in the six GCC countries will recover faster than the other tourism-dependent Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region countries, such as Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Egypt.
According to the IIF, prior to the pandemic, tourism contributed directly and indirectly to more than 15% of gross domestic product and 35% of foreign exchange earnings in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.
IIF chief economist for MENA and Caucasus and Central Asia, Garbis Iradian said: “We expect the five tourism-dependent Mena economies to suffer much longer than the six GCC countries from the negative impacts of the pandemic.”
Iradian went on to explain that the information for the first quarter of this year showed that the number of tourist arrivals to the oil-importing MENA countries were just 25% of what they were in Q1 of 2020, and recent increases in Covid-19 cases in key source markets, including the EU, will delay the partial recovery until the second half of this year.
“The recovery will be gradual and limited in scope, and tourism in the MENA region is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023. Tourists from the EU, UK, Russia and the USA may be enticed by other countries in the Mediterranean region or to continue to focus more on domestic trips in countries where they reside,” he added.
Another factor inhibiting recovery is the slow vaccine rollout in non-GCC Mena countries. Iradian explained: “Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Lebanon could face repeated outbreaks before vaccines become widely available, limiting the chance of herd immunity before the end of 2022.”