If you were wondering how the Russian war in Ukraine is affecting tourism, then wonder no more. Russia has announced a new visa regime that applies to all countries without exception including those within the European Union and NATO. The sanctions will be enforced starting January 15th 2018 if travel agencies fail to comply with instructions on how they are supposed to work around them by December 31st 2017.,
Even beyond the grain shortages and soaring food prices that have troubled policymakers thus far, Russia’s shockwaves are rapidly hitting nations in the Middle East as it continues to wage war on Ukraine.
More than a month after Russia started its first offensive on Ukraine, bilateral sanctions, airspace closures, and supply-line cuts are forcing global food, oil, and gasoline markets to go wild, culminating in runaway inflation. Simultaneously, the Russian-Ukrainian war is wreaking havoc on the global tourist industry, disrupting regular travel patterns and expenditure, with some nations bearing a greater burden than others.
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The Middle East has a strong tourist offering as the birthplace of some of humanity’s most ancient civilizations and home to some of the world’s most spectacular modern-day metropolises. Dubai, Cairo, and Istanbul are frequently listed among the top 10 tourist destinations in the world. In addition, Russian and Ukrainian leisure tourists make up a significant share of the region’s foreign visitors.
Egypt, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are three of the most popular tourist destinations among Russian and Ukrainian visitors, according to CNN. The tourist businesses in Egypt and Turkey have already reported negative consequences from the conflict, with some predicting much greater losses in the future.
According to a 2020 Colliers International report, Ukraine was the second-largest source market for Egypt in pre-pandemic periods, behind Germany, with Ukrainian travels to the North African destination almost tripling in 2019. According to Egyptian deputy tourism minister Ghada Shalaby, when flights to Cairo restarted in July 2021 after the COVID-19 shutdown, Ukrainian visitors were the first to return.
After Moscow relaxed its 2015 prohibition on charter flights between Egypt and Russia, Russian tourism to Egypt increased to 700,000 tourists in 2021. Egypt’s tourism ministry is focused on luring passengers from other countries, with marketing efforts targeting Western Europe and Arab countries for the forthcoming holiday season, since Russian and Ukrainian tourism has been suspended. “It’s a huge blow…but we’re fighting to stay alive,” Shalaby told CNN.
Egypt’s Nile River in Aswan. (Image courtesy of Avanti Destinations)
Timothy Kaldas, a policy scholar at the Tahrir Institute of Middle East Policy, added his two cents, adding, “A major replacement of visitors from those two nations is probably doubtful.” “They already have a constellation of issues,” he said, “that this conflict is further exacerbating.”
According to statistics from the Arabian Travel Market, Russia became the second-largest source market after Dubai in 2021. (ATM). The ATM had estimated that the Russian market for the UAE would contribute more than $1 billion in the following four years before the Ukrainian incursion.
According to a survey by global market research firm Euromonitor International, Russia accounted for 1% of outbound tourist expenditure in 2021, totaling US$9.1 billion.
According to the company’s Travel Forecast Model, “global inbound tourism would be hit by US$6.9 billion in 2022, resulting in a possible loss of 0.9 percent,” owing to the present collapse of Russian and Ukrainian tourism. Its estimate also predicted that this would reduce tourist potential until 2026, however it added that “all relies on how long it takes to negotiate a peaceful settlement.”