|Tourism booming in the Middle East|
|Region see double-digit growth in visitor numbers
The number of tourists visiting the Middle East and North Africa increased this year despite expectations that tourism would decline following the invasion of Iraq and the knock-on effects of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Figures for the region were released by the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization (WTO), in its annual barometer report, which covers global tourism.
"All regions saw a surge in international arrivals," said the report, which was unveiled by WTO secretary general Francesco Frangialli.
Most Middle Eastern destinations continued on the good performance of 2003 and the beginning of 2004, based on the continued strong development of the intra-regional market. Lebanon received 42 percent more tourists from the Arab generating market up to July 2004, while the total number grew by an estimated 30 percent. Other destinations such as Dubai increased by 9 percent, Bahrain by 19 percent and Jordan by 18 percent.
Egypt saw visitors increase by 49 percent up to August, while receipts increased by 52 percent in the first half year. However, Egypt's tourism has been affected in the past month by the terror attacks on Taba and other resorts in the Sinai. In an interview on Friday, the Egyptian Tourism Minister said that the bombings could cost Egypt $200 million in lost tourist revenue in 2004.
In North Africa, international arrivals to Tunisia and Morocco grew by 19 percent and 17 percent respectively. - Agencies.
Beirut,11 08 2004
The Daily Star