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Travel and tourism revenue in the Middle East could rise to $246 billion in 2022

A new study by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has found that travel and tourism sector revenue in the Middle East could reach $246 billion this year, just 8.9% below pre-pandemic levels.

In 2019, before the pandemic struck and began to devastate economies around the world, the region’s travel and tourism sector was booming, generating $270 billion in revenue.

However, when international travel was brought to a near standstill by COVID-19 in 2021, its contribution fell by 51.1%, resulting in a brutal loss of more than $138 billion.

WTTC’s latest research shows that as the region continues to recover from the pandemic and major markets reopen borders and ease travel restrictions, the sector’s contribution to employment could nearly reach pre-pandemic levels this year.

What’s more, the study shows that if countries continue to roll out their vaccination program this year and international travel restrictions are eased around the world, the sector will employ 6.8 million people by the end of 2022, an increase of just 40,000 less than before the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East, but now we have reason to be truly optimistic,” said WTTC President and CEO Julia Simpson.

“Since the start of the pandemic, governments in the Middle East have shown a real commitment to travel and tourism. In particular, Saudi Arabia has shown strong leadership throughout the crisis and is making major investments in the sector.”

“We are in for a strong recovery in 2022 if governments in the region continue to open their borders and lift travel restrictions, which will have a huge positive impact on the economy, society and jobs,” she added.

To get as close to pre-pandemic levels as possible this year, the world’s governments must continue to focus on vaccine distribution and ensure the free movement of fully vaccinated travelers, according to WTTC.

The World Tourism Authority is also calling on governments in the Middle East and around the world to end patchwork restrictions and allow international travel using digital solutions that allow travelers to verify their status in a fast, easy and secure way.

As for Egypt, Saeed El Batouti – UNWTO economic adviser, member of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and board member of the German Tourism Association – said in an interview with Daily News Egypt in February that a good reason for optimism is that Egypt is one of the first tourist areas where recovery has begun.

He said the final figures for 2021 are not yet available, but he expects the number of tourists visiting Egypt during 2021 to be around 4.5 million tourists and that number is expected to increase during 2022 to reach about 7 million tourists – assuming the coronavirus does not develop further – and if it does, Egypt will reach about $7.2 billion in tourism revenue.

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