Here are The Latest Middle East & North Africa Tourism Statistics [2022-2023] as compiled by TrustYou
Hospitality Hotspots: The Latest Middle East & North Africa Tourism Statistics [2022-2023]
By Catalina Brinza
The latest Middle East & North Africa tourism statistics from top-performing countries based on the latest third-party and TrustYou data [2022-2023]
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) travel industry benefited from one of the strongest recoveries last year, especially the Middle East. While the global recovery was estimated at 63% in 2022, arrivals in the Middle East reached 83% of pre-pandemic numbers. Hosting FIFA World Cup was a major contributor to the success and increase of tourism there. In Q4 2022, the region registered a 4% increase in arrivals compared to 2019, way above the global numbers (a 30% decrease compared to 2019).
MENA is a dynamic and diverse region with much to offer for leisure and business travelers: luxurious hotels and restaurants, rich culture and traditions, breathtaking scenery, and historical landmarks.
To give you an overview of the state of MENA travel, we looked at the top-performing MENA countries based on guest feedback and compiled the latest third-party and TrustYou statistics.
#1 Top-Performing Countries in MENA
Using TrustYou’s Performance Score, we looked at the top-performing countries in terms of reputation. Performance Score is a metric showing an accommodation’s and/or restaurant’s average rating over a selected period. For this list, we chose the countries with the highest review volumes – over 100k reviews in 2022 and 25k reviews in Q1 2023. We ordered the countries with the same performance score based on the highest review volume.
Compared to 2022, Q1 2023 brought a newcomer to the list: Egypt, currently fourth in our top-performing MENA countries.
What makes these countries receive higher scores from travelers? We decided to take a deep dive into the latest statistics to understand the specifics of each country and identify emerging trends.
#2 Morocco Tourism Statistics Onwards and Upwards
In Q1-Q3 2022, Morocco ranked third among the most visited Arab countries, with 11 million visitors, representing 84% of the 2019 numbers. Saudi Arabia ranked 1st, with 18 million visitors, followed by United Arab Emirates (UAE), with 15 million visitors.
Casablanca is among the most popular tourist destinations in Marocco
Last year, the sector’s revenue more than doubled compared to 2021, reaching 91 billion dirhams, exceeding 2019 levels.
The historic success of the national team at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar brought more than a sense of unprecedented pride for the North-African country—the interest in visiting Morocco surged in the first months of 2023. Forty days after the World Cup, the country registered a 40% increase in arrivals.
By the end of February 2023, 1.9 million tourists visited Morocco, 464% more than in 2022.The authorities seek ways to capitalize on these successes and substantially boost the sector. By 2026, Morocco aims to reach the top 10 global destinations and increase its number of arrivals to 17.5 million tourists. The actions that will help achieve these targets include launching new air routes, 200k new jobs, and a $580 million investment in the sector.
#3 Qatar Tourism Statistics
Qatar was the first Arab country to host a FIFA World Cup. What’s next after the World Cup?
The FIFA World Cup brought an impressive number of visitors to Qatar. In November and December 2022, international arrivals more than tripled compared to the previous months.
International arrivals registering record increases during the World Cup, source: Qatar Tourism
This event placed QATAR on the world tourism map, with authorities aiming to increase the country’s attractiveness.
By 2030, Qatar wants to reach 6 million tourists annually and increase tourism contribution to GDP from 7% to 12%. Immediately after the World Cup, Qatar registered another win. Doha was chosen as the Arab Capital of Tourism awarded by the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism, proving its commitment to improving its performance as a destination. Among other indicators of excellence, Qatar Airlines have been chosen for the seventh time as the best airline worldwide, based on 14 million surveys distributed across 100 countries by Skytrax.
The first numbers for 2023 also show an encouraging recovery. Qatar Tourism reports 340k arrivals in January 2023 and 389k in February 2023.
Further plans include hosting a few sports events – the 2023 Asian Football Cup and the Asia Games. Qatar is also preparing its candidacy for the 2036 Olympic Games. All these actions will help leverage the stadiums built to host the FIFA World Cup.
#4 Israel Tourism Statistics
The Holy Land welcomed 2.7 million international visitors in 2022 – 60% compared to 2019. The first data for 2023 shows an accelerated recovery – 199% more tourists visited the country compared to Q1 2022, reaching 87% of pre-pandemic levels.
Jerusalem is a top destination for religious pilgrimages. One of the world’s oldest and most sacred cities, it attracts more than 1.5 million Jewish, Muslim, and Christian pilgrims each spring, increasing the city’s population by 55% during Passover, Ramadan, and Easter. Tourism Continues to Be VAT Exempt After Pressures From the Industry
The Netanyahu government planned to cancel the 17% tax on services exemption for tourists starting with the next state budget. Currently, travelers visiting Israel are exempt from the tax on accommodation, car rental, travel agency services, catering, etc. The government estimated that reintroducing the tax can generate up to $500 million yearly. But industry experts said the losses would be more significant than the gains. This proposal, which also was rejected in 2013, didn’t pass a ministerial committee.
#5 United Arab Emirates Tourism Statistics
When thinking about the Emirates, one place is at the top of the mind of almost every tourist: Dubai. In 2022, the iconic destination welcomed nearly 14.4 million overnight visitors, a 97% increase from 2021 and 86% of the 2019 volume – above the global averages for recovery indicators. The occupancy rate also increased – from 67% in 2021 to 73% in 2022.
The beginning of 2023 is more than encouraging. The first numbers for January and February show a 42% increase in tourism visitors compared to last year.
In 2023, a new decade starts for Dubai’s economy and tourism with the Dubai Economic Agenda D33. The strategy aims to double the size of Dubai’s economy by 2033 and place it among the top three global cities for tourism and business.
Scrapping Taxes to Boost Tourism
Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are revising certain taxes to make the tourism sector more attractive for travelers and industry professionals. Since the beginning of 2023, Dubai has no longer applied the 30% municipality tax on alcohol. Tourists and ex-pats don’t have to pay fees to get an individual liquor license for purchasing alcohol.
Abu Dhabi is also scrapping taxes in an effort to boost event tourism. Organizers are now exempted from the 10% tax per ticket sold.
#6 Jordan Tourism Statistics
In 2022, Jordan registered an increase of 110.5% in tourism revenue, corresponding to a recovery in visitor arrivals – 5.05 million, compared to 2.36 million in 2021. The income has slightly surpassed the pre-pandemic levels by 0.4%.
2023 looks even more promising: in the first quarter, the Kingdom’s tourism revenue grew by 88.4% compared to the same period in 2022. The number of overnight visits increased by 90.7% compared to 2022, surpassing the pre-pandemic volume by 5%.
In March 2023, another Jordanian landmark was recognized for its focus on preserving traditions and promoting inclusiveness and accessibility. The village of Umm Qais received the UNWTO’s Best Tourism Villages Award.
View of the ruins of the ancient city of Gadara in Umm Qais. The village recently focused on reviving the Aqueduct Tunnel to scale up adventure tourism. Known as the longest water tunnel in the world, the Aqueduct connects Southern Syria with Umm Quais. Tourism Reform Continues
In April 2023, the government launched the third phase of reforming the tourism sector. Part of the Kingdom’s National Tourism Strategy 2021-2025, this stage focuses on improving the licensing system by creating a clear and simplified regulatory framework for businesses in the sector.
#7 Egypt Tourism Statistics
Egypt recorded a 46% growth in the number of tourists in 2022 compared to 2021. Last year, 11.7 million visitors entered the country of pyramids.
Authorities expect a 28% increase in the number of tourists in 2023. The recent data for the first months of the year indicate a strong beginning. In February and March alone, the number of tourists increased by 34% compared to 2022.
According to the recently adopted tourism strategy, the government aims to attract 30 million tourists by 2030. This will be possible if the yearly growth reaches 25%-30%.
Doubling the hotel rooms, enhancing air connectivity, investing in promotional projects, and improving the overall visitors’ experience are among the main priorities to help boost tourism.
Among the first actions taken by the government are focused on simplifying the visa process. In March, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced that citizens of more than 180 countries can apply for a 5-year multiple-entry visa. Tourist visas for certain countries will be automatically renewed at Egyptian airports.
#8 How TrustYou Can Help Destinations Attract More Visitors
For destinations, the competition is getting stronger in the post-pandemic scene. Countries are planning elaborate strategies to help the sector go beyond recovery and make tourism a driver of economic growth.
A true understanding of customer profiles in the post-pandemic world is the key to luring high-yielding tourists to your destination and making connections that enable unforgettable experiences. This is made possible through one thing only: listening to travelers. Listening gets you feedback and data.
Create inspiring, exciting, unforgettable experiences. Collect feedback. Attract more visitors.
With TrustYou’s reputation management platform, you access valuable insights from thousands of hotel reviews – to understand your visitor’s behavior and improve key areas. You can integrate our review widgets onto your DMO website to give travelers the information they need to make a booking decision. Benchmark yourself against competitor destinations to identify your strengths and weaknesses to position yourself properly in the market. Help your DMO’s accommodations build their collection and understanding of guest feedback to increase the number of reviews. Contact us today to find out how to keep your visitors happy every step of the way.
Catalina is a social media and data enthusiast. At TrustYou, she’s on the mission to bring the most out of travel and hospitality data. One day, she hopes to experience Japan’s culture to its fullest.
Recently, Tunisia was found to be using U.S. Funds to broaden its Tourism attractiveness. Having gone through ups and downs, it is a matter of how Tunisia is using those U.S. Funds to broaden its Tourism branding.
So, how is Tunisia using U.S. Funds to Broaden Its Tourism? Let us see.
Tunisia recorded two million tourists in 2020, ranking 66th in the world. It generated around $1.01 billion in its tourism sector, corresponding to 2.1 percent of its gross domestic product and approximately 10 percent of all international tourism receipts in Northern Africa.
How Tunisia Is Using U.S. Funds to Broaden Its Tourism Branding
Photo credit: Sousse, Tunisia Leonid Andronov / Getty
The sustainable planning phase of Tunisia’s destination marketing rebirth — the easy part — is done. Plan implementation is where the real work will begin.
The U.S. government is trying to help Tunisia develop a multifaceted destination brand, one that captures its diverse offerings and incorporates community stakeholders. That journey has come with obstacles from entrenched stakeholders, a historic beach image and developing visitor infrastructure.
In February, the U.S. government injected $50 million into Tunisia’s tourism sector through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under a five-year project called “Visit Tunisia.”
The project’s aim is to promote the northern African country of 12 million people as a high-quality tourist destination with diverse offerings, increase the number of tourists year-round, and create new source markets. A key objective is to have the country draw 11.5 million tourist arrivals by 2026.
The USAID, an independent agency of the U.S. federal government, doesn’t typically assist global destinations with tourism marketing. In Tunisia’s case, the agency has been investing in its economic and political development since its 2011 Revolution, which overthrew longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. “This was seen as an opportune time to see what Tunisia’s tourism future could look like,” said Visit Tunisia Destination Marketing Team Leader Mackenzie Mackenzie.
Tunisia’s brand has traditionally been a beach destination. “Tunisia has a strong tourism legacy from years of being promoted, especially in the European markets, as a sun and sand destination,” said Mackenzie.
The Tunisian National Tourism Office has offices around the world that lean on this image, Mackenzie said. Travelers on the “budget end of the market” come to the country for its coastal beaches and resorts during the summer season.
“Unfortunately the biggest number of people coming to Tunisia are coming for the resorts,” said Overseas Adventure Travel Tunisia Country Manger Chaker Abichou. He expects that 90 percent of tourists that came to the destination this year are here for Sousse and other popular resort towns located on the country’s north and east coast.
USAID’s aim is to expand the number of flexible, independent and younger travelers already exploring the country. “We are looking at what they’re doing and what they are seeing,” Mackenzie said. These travelers go beyond the beach and take on motorcycle tours, camping in the Sahara, hiking adventures, stay in local guest houses and explore local experiences.
The marketing ambition comes as Tunisia bounces back after a rough 11 years since its revolution. In that period, the tourism sector experienced civil unrest, terrorist attacks and Covid-19. “It’s been a triple whammy for the sector,” Mackenzie said.
In 2015, a mass shooting killed 38 people at the tourist resort of Port El Kantahoui, Tunisia has been under a state of emergency since 2015. The security situation has improved greatly in the last decade, said Abichou. He said tourist feedback on safety has been very positive.
Even so, the U.S., UK, France and Germany have issued warnings to their citizens to be cautious about travel to the country and to explicitly not travel to certain due to terrorist activities.
Tunisia has the untapped potential to attract the flexible, independent traveler market. The destination is home to famous battle sites, well-preserved Roman and other civilizational ruins, filming locations for popular movies like Star Wars, mountains, Sahara, religious sites, a rich culture and more. Communities just need help to leverage these strengths, MacKenzie said.
USAID has sought out attracting tour operators focused on experiential and adventure travel. It has partnered with the Smithsonian Institution to develop the destination’s cultural heritage. Investments in visitor infrastructure for cultural and archaeological sites like better roads, hiking trails and boardwalks throughout the country are also being planned.
The agency has zeroed in on six communities for more focused destination development. “They typically don’t have a destination marketing organization structure,” said Mackenzie. “We are looking at how we work with destinations and innovate and harness the capacity in those communities. If it won’t be a DMO, what will it be?”
Working with industry and community stakeholders to develop sustainable models has eaten up the first year of the project. “Pretty much the first year has been dedicated to stakeholder engagement,” said Mackenzie.
The agency wants to avoid the common mistake international development agencies make of not developing a plan that outlasts their exit. “Often the experts come in, make a plan, off they go and the plan sits around,” said Mackenzie. With stakeholder input, plans have been drawn up to develop visitor infrastructure and promotional efforts.
One group of stakeholders that have proven a challenge to work with is the dominant resort community. Many in the group view the attempt at marketing diversification as “turning away from our bread and butter, resort tourism,” said Chris Seek, CEO of Solimar International, a sustainable tourism consultancy which works with USAID on Visit Tunisia.
Resort stakeholders have a lot of influence and power in the country’s tourism industry, said Overseas Adventure Travel Tunisia’s Abichou.
“We have to constantly try to remind them it’s not about turning away,” added Solimar’s Seek. “It’s about making your destination more competitive because you have things that other beaches don’t offer.”
To attract more tourists from all over the world in the coming months, Discover Qatar, destination management company of Qatar Airways Group, will expand the Stopover programme.
“Featuring an outstanding and comprehensive portfolio of hotels, excursions, transfers and activities, Discover Qatar (DQ) has made noteworthy strides in highlighting and promoting Qatar as a global tourist destination,” said the Qatar Airways Group Annual Report 2021-2022 released last month.
It said that the company welcomed again its first visitors to Qatar from the MSC Virtuosa Cruise ship, and has since provided tour services for over 10,000 visitors to Qatar. “The focus for the upcoming financial year is on expanding the Stopover programme as well as facilitating transit tours.”
The report said that the new programme will allow passengers to experience tours through Discover Qatar “as soon as transit visas are opened again”.
“Discover Qatar aims to become the go-to brand synonymous with excellence in operational delivery for Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Events (MICE), for world-class sporting events and for educational tourism in one of the safest environments in the world,” it added.
According to another recent report, Qatar Tourism (QT) is also ramping up its strategies to drive more tourists in the country by capitalising on Stopover campaign together with Qatar Airways. This is one of the six key strategies QT is focusing on upping the tourist numbers in Qatar which is set to welcome over 1.5 million visitors for the World Cup from November.
COO of Qatar Tourism Berthold Trenkel said last month that according to their data, Qatar has been a transit airport, “people arrive, people go, no one gets off – so that’s one thing for us to change.”
The report says that with its customer-first approach, DQ is committed to fully respecting Qatar’s heritage and culture, its stakeholders and the broader community by providing products and services with an unwavering focus on quality. “Discover Qatar offers its services to the world through business-to-business (B2B) retail and corporate relationships, and in Qatar through the Discover Qatar website.”
It added: “Discover Qatar plays a key role in promoting Qatar, working closely with Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism, and supports initiatives to host influential tour operators and travel professionals to experience the best of Qatar through memorable tours and exciting excursions.”
It further revealed that during the financial year 2021/2022, DQ revised and relaunched its Ground Services programme, now offering nearly 30 land and water-based tours and experiences, meet and assist services at HIA and transfers, enabling a superior end-to-end service for all customers from arrival to departure.
A story by Bea Mitchell on blooloop of 15 Jun 2021 illustrates well the ambitions of those countries around the Red Sea in terms of diversified economic development. It is about the Saraya Aqaba Waterpark set to open on July 3 in Jordan. The employment of Jordanian people will obviously improve as of this summer. But not only; here is the story.
The picture above is for illustration and is of Mashable ME.
Saraya Aqaba Waterpark set to open on July 3 in Jordan
Saraya Aqaba Waterpark, the first world-class water park in Aqaba and the largest in Jordan, is scheduled to open on July 3.
Saraya Aqaba Waterpark in Jordan features more than 25 rides, slides and experiences across more than 28,500 square metres. It opens in Aqaba on July 3.
The water park’s rides and attractions are inspired by Jordan’s iconic landmarks, including Dead Sea Drop, Wadi Rum Race and Aqua Jerash.
Dead Sea Drop guests will take a vertical plunge, while Wadi Rum Race is a competitive multi-racer. Aqua Jerash features play attractions for young guests, including slides, waterfalls and rotating water jets.
“We are excited to announce that Saraya Aqaba Waterpark will be the first of its kind waterpark in Aqaba and the largest in the kingdom,” said Chris Van Der Merwe, general manager of Saraya Aqaba Waterpark.
25 rides, slides and experiences
“At Saraya Aqaba Waterpark, guests from Jordan and around the world are in for an aquatic adventure like no other with slides, rides and experiences suitable for guests of all ages.
“The water park has been carefully designed with families in mind and as such guests can expect a family-friendly environment, both in and out of the water.
“We are looking forward to welcoming you at Saraya Aqaba Waterpark for unforgettable memories that will last for a lifetime,” added Van Der Merwe.
Also opening at the water park is the Rose City Diner, alongside refreshment kiosks around the park serving snacks, ice cream and drinks. The attraction’s signature shopping outlet is called Al Siq Souk.
Jordan’s landmarks inspire rides
Saraya Aqaba Waterpark is located within the Saraya Al Aqaba Residential City, which features a combination of residential, business, leisure and entertainment facilities.
With the advent of the pandemic and its ensuing lockdown, life changed for the many peoples of the UAE. But of all aspects of life, travelling is to do with remote working and all its direct consequences reviewed here. So despite the Grim short-term Forecast for the Coronavirus-era Economy why upsizing could become a significant travel trend?
Upsizing could become key travel trend, says study
DUBAI, Financial situations worsening for consumers has been widely discussed amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However, many consumers managed to bypass this financial squeeze and have incidentally become efficient savers.
This trend should not be overlooked by tourism companies which need to realise that not all travelers will be wanting a budget-friendly option for their next holiday, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
With saved cash that has accumulated during the pandemic, many travellers may be planning to spend more than usual on their next trip.
According to GlobalData’s survey, when global respondents were asked if they were concerned about their personal financial situation, 13% stated that they were ‘not concerned’. Although this is still significantly less than the 34% that stated they are ‘extremely concerned’, it means that over one in ten of the global travel market could be financially unaffected by the pandemic and have even saved a considerable amount.
Ralph Hollister, Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Many of the travellers that make up this 13% are likely to be white-collar workers that can work effectively at home. Due to spending the vast majority of their time being confined to their homes in the past year, the urge to travel would have built up. This urge, combined with a significant increase in savings, could mean that many of these travellers will have developed a ‘treat yourself’ mentality, to combat the impact of the pandemic which has increased boredom and frustration for many. This mentality could be present as these consumers start planning their next holiday, which could result in them spending more on room upgrades, business class flights and higher quality rental vehicles.
“As well as saving money on commuting, eating out and on other recreational activities, many of these consumers who have been unaffected by the pandemic have also saved by not booking a holiday last year, or by having their cancelled trip refunded. This could mean that for their next trip, they will go bigger and better on more luxurious travel services and products. This trend could also be driven by a ‘now or never’ mentality, as when travellers have the opportunity to go on holiday, they will spend significantly more and stay for longer in case another situation like the Covid-19 pandemic reoccurs,” Hollister said. –TradeArabia News Service
Originally posted on HUMAN WRONGS WATCH: Human Wrongs Watch (UN News)* — Disinformation, hate speech and deadly attacks against journalists are threatening freedom of the press worldwide, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday [2 May 2023], calling for greater solidarity with the people who bring us the news. UN Photo/Mark Garten | File photo…
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