Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighter waves a Black flag during a
military parade in the Raqqa province in Syria.
(Photo:"Handout / Alamy Stock
Photo)
The ripple effects from attacks by the Islamic State and other
militants may start in the Middle East and Europe, but they"re felt in the
U.S.
too.
Emphasizing the fact that an attack can happen anywhere,
U.S.
officials have tightened security measures for flights coming from
Mideast airports."You know while we can"t rule anything in or out, we have to
consider the possibility that of potential terrorist involvement here," White
House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Friday.This is travel in the
age of ISIS, and the challenges it will create for tourism, are likely here to
stay.
Those challenges are especially acute in the Mideast: the most recent
example is the crash of an Russian commercial plane in Egypt – ISIS is
claiming responsibility, and local investigators are "90 percent sure" that a
bomb caused it, according to a Reuters report.Since the crash, Egypt has tried
to entice tourists by opening three tombs in Luxor for the first time.
While
this was planned before the plane disaster, the country had already been
suffering from a reputation as a dangerous places to visit.
Now, an Egyptian
official estimates the country could lose 70 percent of its tourists.The
Middle East has a security problem to address with tourists thanks to a
combination of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 and more recent attacks from
militants.
The reputation hit doesn"t always make sense: some countries"
tourism industries are thriving, others" have taken big hits because of
violence, and other countries are struggling to attract visitors despite no
recent violence at all.
The Temple of Edfu – normally a popular tourist
destination in Egypt – is practically empty, a sign of decreased
tourism among Mideast countries.
(Photo:"AP Photo/Belal Darder)Evidence of
flat or sagging tourism in Mideast countries can be found in recent data,
forecasts for 2015, and anecdotes from regional tour operators who cater to
Americans.
"Leisure travel to the Middle East has been down exponentially
since the Arab Spring," Justin Huff, director of Africa, Middle East, and
Polar Programs for adventure tour operator Mountain Travel Sobek, told World
traveling club Travel.
"The mindset of the American traveler to this region
has now been completely altered due to the unrest."Related: Egypt Plane Crash:
Is it Safe to Fly?
ISIS and other militants are hardly just a Mideast concern
– consider France, which had the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January and
the beheading of a man in Lyon in June by a suspect linked to ISIS.
And it"s
tough to correlate tourism numbers with fears about terrorism.
But while
France is projecting a record high for tourism in 2015, some Middle East
countries with no recent attacks, such as Jordan and Morocco, are struggling
for no other apparent reason.
"It seems to be the convoluted logic of,
‘ISIS are Arabs, there are Arabs in Morocco, therefore there is ISIS in
Morocco," Piotr Kostrzewski, a Morocco scholar and tour operator with Cross
Cultural Adventures, told World traveling club Travel.
Here"s a look at how
various Mideast countries are doing:Hotspots that have cooled offBeautiful and
exotic Morocco is among the places where tourism has dwindled in recent years
due to negative perceptions.
(Photo: iStock)Morocco, an accessibly exotic
country renowned for its spicy foods, hammams, and medinas, remains a popular
place: Marrakesh was named the world"s favorite destination on TripAdvisor
this year, for example.
But after more than doubling its tourism from 2002 to
2011, its numbers have been flat since.
The World Travel & Tourism Council
estimates Morocco"s tourism will dip from 10.2 million tourists last year to
9.8 million in 2015.
"No terrorism activity of any kind has occurred since a
"lone-wolf" bomb attack on a Marrakech café in 2013," Kostrzewski said of
Morocco.
"Nevertheless, tourism there has been affected as well, due to
perceptions.
"All my contacts in Morocco report that this summer has basically
been ‘dead" for tourism.
….
Normally at this time of year I am
busy booking end-of-year holidays for families, yet so far have had no
requests for this year"s Christmas season.
Yet, at the same time, there are
enough tourists still coming in that no-one has raised red flags about loss of
jobs or hotel/restaurant closings."Turkey is another travel favorite that"s
taking a hit this year, though unlike Morocco it has seen violence: more than
100 people were killed by a bomb attack in Ankara last month, and ISIS is
suspected.
It"s the deadliest attack in the country"s modern history.Stunning
and culturally rich Turkey has also experienced a major drop in tourism due to
to travelers believing it is unsafe.
(Photo: Getty Images)Even before the
attack, Turkey was seeing flat or dropping tourism numbers this year thanks in
part to a sharp decline in Russian tourists.
The country"s ministry of tourism
reported a 2.31 percent drop year over year in September, and tourism revenues
dropped 4.4 percent to $12.29 billion in the third quarter of this year,
according to the Turkish Statistics Institute.
Hotels have been struggling to
fill beds.
"Yes, we have seen cancellations because of the bombing and
surprisingly not just from the U.
S.
but from Asia as well," said Earl
Starkey, who specializes in Turkey travel with Protravel International.
"I
still think Turkey is as safe as anywhere, but people on vacation deserve to
feel safe." "It is a pity because Turkey has so much to offer in terms of
history, luxury, beautiful coastlines and unusual terrains."It remains one of
the great destinations in the world." We are hoping that by next year this
horrific event will fade from people"s minds and they will again come
here."Related: What Americans Get Wrong About Turkey
Egypt has likewise been
hard hit ever since the Arab Spring uprisings – after drawing 14.7
million tourists in 2010, it got only 9.9 million last year, with tourism
minister Hisham Zaazou telling Reuters he expects that total to reach 10
million in 2015, below the forecasted 11 million.
That was, of course, before
the recent plane crash.
Tourism revenues have fallen from a high of $12.5
billion in a year to an estimated $7.5 to $8 billion this year that could end
up much lower now.
Related: When You Can"t Go Home: My Last Visit to Syria
Before ISIS
Not helping Egypt"s cause has been a series of ISIS-related
attacks in Cairo and elsewhere.
"Initially, it looked like a positive change
when [President Hosni] Mubarak fell from power, Huff of Mountain Travel Sobek
said.
"But the changing of the guard in Egypt led to massive instability,
including attacks all throughout the country most recently, some in Luxor on
tourists."Inexplicably emptyJordan – home to popular tourist spots Wadi
Rum and Petra – has been unusually devoid of visitors.
(Photo:"Charlie
Phillips/Flickr)
Jordan is a beautiful cocoon of safety in the Middle East,
surrounded by the likes of Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
It offers one of the
world"s greatest sites – the ancient city of Petra.
Yet few tourists
are visiting such treasures as Wadi Rum, and Petra sits strangely empty.
Al
Jazeera reported that Jordan"s tourism over the first four months of 2015
dropped 40 percent from the same period last year.
"We are paying a tax for
being in the middle of an inflamed region," Abul Razaq Arabiat, the head of
Jordan"s Tourism Board, told the site.The untouchablesDespite recent attacks
in Jerusalem, Israel"s tourism is at its highest ever.
(Photo: iStock)While
terrorism may be hurting Turkey"s and Egypt"s bottom line with tourists, this
has not been the case in Israel despite its own violence.
Three people were
killed and 20 injured in October during a spate of attacks in Jerusalem, which
has long been a hotbed of religious tension.
Israel"s tourism ministry is
estimating 700,000 American visitors in 2015 – the highest number
ever.
Among Muslim countries, the biggest outlier that seems immune to a
dangerous reputation with Westerners is the United Arab Emirates.
According to
the WTTC, its tourist arrival numbers have risen every year since 2009, up to
a projected 14.8 million in 2015.
To lesser extents, Oman and Qatar have been
resilient, with their visitor numbers rising each year since 2011, according
to the WTTC.
But their overall tourism numbers are still relatively modest,
with a projected 2 million and 2.9 million arrivals this year.Related: The
Ancient Oasis Towns of Oman: An Explorer"s Dream
One footnote to this
category: despite a series of attacks this year Saudi Arabia is untouchable as
a travel destination in its own way, with tourist arrivals projected to rise
to 15.6 million this year.
However, the vast majority of the country"s
visitors have historically not come from the West but from Muslim pilgrims to
Mecca.
Mortally woundedThe recent attack at the Bardo Museum was just one of
several incidents where tourists in Tunisia were killed by an act of
terrorism.
(Photo:"Anis Mili/Reuters/Corbis)One attack on tourists was enough
to seriously harm tourism to Tunisia, as happened in March when 22 people were
killed at the Bardo Museum – ISIS claimed responsibility.
But a fatal
blow was struck in July, when 38 European tourists were shot dead at a hotel
in Sousse.
Tunisia"s government estimates its tourism sector will lose $500
million this year, and that tourist arrivals dropped 20 percent to 4 million
in the first eight months of 2015.
The country has recently been getting buzz
as a destination for Star Wars tourism because of the upcoming movie, but
that"s unlikely to create even a blip.Kostrzewski of Cross Cultural Adventures
also specializes in tours to Tunisia, and said tourism had slowed to "just a
trickle of independent visitors" since the attacks, and that Tunisia"s tourism
sector stood to lose 400,000 jobs, despite new security measures.
"I, for one,
believe the liability risks are too severe for now and thus am awaiting the
end of this year, to see if no other disaster happens, i.e., if the country"s
security apparatus is being efficient," he told World traveling club
Travel.
"I"ll reconsider in consequence as of early 2016."Should you
go?Travelers are still strongly discouraged from visiting Iraq and
Syria.
(Photo: Getty Images)In all the destinations mentioned here, even
Tunisia, your chances of enjoying a culturally rich, peaceful vacation are far
higher than being a victim of terrorism or unrest.
With preparation and
vigilance, such as knowing where your local embassy is and avoiding
violence-prone areas, you can increase your odds of a safe trip.When contacted
by World traveling club Travel, U.S.
State Department official William
B.
Cocks did point out some places to avoid:"To be clear, travel to Iraq and
Syria remains very dangerous and the U.S.
government strongly discourages
U.S.
citizens traveling to Iraq or Syria to fight against ISIL," Cocks
said.""U.S.
citizens should avoid areas near the Syrian, Turkish, or Iranian
borders, which are especially dangerous and not always clearly defined."" The
State Department offers country-by-country updates for travelers, with
information on any recent unrest, plus Travel Warnings with specific regional
threats and more limited Travel Alerts.
It also offers the STEP program, where
travelers can receive information wherever they are and be easier for their
loved ones to locate in case of emergency.WATCH:"Heaven on Earth: The Hidden
Oasis of the Arabian Desert
Let World traveling club Travel inspire you
every day.
Check out our original adventure travel series, "A Broad Abroad."
An Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighter waves a Black flag during a
military parade in the Raqqa province in Syria.
Emphasizing the fact that an
attack can happen anywhere, U.S.
officials have tightened security measures
for flights coming from Mideast airports.
"You know while we can't rule
anything in or out, we have to consider the possibility that of potential
terrorist involvement here," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told
reporters Friday.
Those challenges are especially acute in the Mideast: the
most recent example is the crash of an Russian commercial plane in Egypt –
ISIS is claiming responsibility, and local investigators are "90 percent
sure" that a bomb caused it, according to a Reuters report..Turkey is
another travel favorite that"s taking a hit this year, though unlike Morocco
it has seen violence: more than 100 people were killed by a bomb attack in
Ankara last month, and ISIS is suspected.
It"s the deadliest attack in the
country"s modern history.Stunning and culturally rich Turkey has also
experienced a major drop in tourism due to to travelers believing it is
unsafe.
(Photo: Getty Images)Even before the attack, Turkey was seeing flat or
dropping tourism numbers this year thanks in part to a sharp decline in
Russian tourists.
The country"s ministry of tourism reported a 2.31 percent
drop year over year in September, and tourism revenues dropped 4.4 percent to
$12.29 billion in the third quarter of this year, according to the Turkish
Statistics Institute.
Hotels have been struggling to fill beds.
"Yes, we have
seen cancellations because of the bombing and surprisingly not just from the
U.
S.
but from Asia as well," said Earl Starkey, who specializes in Turkey
travel with Protravel International.
"I still think Turkey is as safe as
anywhere, but people on vacation deserve to feel safe." "It is a pity because
Turkey has so much to offer in terms of history, luxury, beautiful coastlines
and unusual terrains."It remains one of the great destinations in the world."
We are hoping that by next year this horrific event will fade from people"s
minds and they will again come here."Related: What Americans Get Wrong About
Turkey
Egypt has likewise been hard hit ever since the Arab Spring uprisings
– after drawing 14.7 million tourists in 2010, it got only 9.9 million
last year, with tourism minister Hisham Zaazou telling Reuters he expects that
total to reach 10 million in 2015, below the forecasted 11 million.
That was,
of course, before the recent plane crash.
Tourism revenues have fallen from a
high of $12.5 billion in a year to an estimated $7.5 to $8 billion this year
that could end up much lower now.
Related: When You Can"t Go Home: My Last
Visit to Syria Before ISIS
Not helping Egypt"s cause has been a series of
ISIS-related attacks in Cairo and elsewhere.
"Initially, it looked like a
positive change when [President Hosni] Mubarak fell from power, Huff of
Mountain Travel Sobek said.
"But the changing of the guard in Egypt led to
massive instability, including attacks all throughout the country most
recently, some in Luxor on tourists."Inexplicably emptyJordan – home to
popular tourist spots Wadi Rum and Petra – has been unusually devoid of
visitors.
(Photo:"Charlie Phillips/Flickr)
Jordan is a beautiful cocoon of
safety in the Middle East, surrounded by the likes of Iraq, Syria, and Saudi
Arabia.
It offers one of the world"s greatest sites – the ancient city
of Petra.
Yet few tourists are visiting such treasures as Wadi Rum, and Petra
sits strangely empty.
Al Jazeera reported that Jordan"s tourism over the first
four months of 2015 dropped 40 percent from the same period last year.
"We are
paying a tax for being in the middle of an inflamed region," Abul Razaq
Arabiat, the head of Jordan"s Tourism Board, told the site.The
untouchablesDespite recent attacks in Jerusalem, Israel"s tourism is at its
highest ever.
(Photo: iStock)While terrorism may be hurting Turkey"s and
Egypt"s bottom line with tourists, this has not been the case in Israel
despite its own violence.
Three people were killed and 20 injured in October
during a spate of attacks in Jerusalem, which has long been a hotbed of
religious tension.
Israel"s tourism ministry is estimating 700,000 American
visitors in 2015 – the highest number ever.
Among Muslim countries, the
biggest outlier that seems immune to a dangerous reputation with Westerners is
the United Arab Emirates.
According to the WTTC, its tourist arrival numbers
have risen every year since 2009, up to a projected 14.8 million in 2015.
To
lesser extents, Oman and Qatar have been resilient, with their visitor numbers
rising each year since 2011, according to the WTTC.
But their overall tourism
numbers are still relatively modest, with a projected 2 million and 2.9
million arrivals this year.Related: The Ancient Oasis Towns of Oman: An
Explorer"s Dream
One footnote to this category: despite a series of attacks
this year Saudi Arabia is untouchable as a travel destination in its own way,
with tourist arrivals projected to rise to 15.6 million this year.
However,
the vast majority of the country"s visitors have historically not come from
the West but from Muslim pilgrims to Mecca.
Mortally woundedThe recent attack
at the Bardo Museum was just one of several incidents where tourists in
Tunisia were killed by an act of terrorism.
(Photo:"Anis
Mili/Reuters/Corbis)One attack on tourists was enough to seriously harm
tourism to Tunisia, as happened in March when 22 people were killed at the
Bardo Museum – ISIS claimed responsibility.
But a fatal blow was struck
in July, when 38 European tourists were shot dead at a hotel in
Sousse.
Tunisia"s government estimates its tourism sector will lose $500
million this year, and that tourist arrivals dropped 20 percent to 4 million
in the first eight months of 2015.
The country has recently been getting buzz
as a destination for Star Wars tourism because of the upcoming movie, but
that"s unlikely to create even a blip.Kostrzewski of Cross Cultural Adventures
also specializes in tours to Tunisia, and said tourism had slowed to "just a
trickle of independent visitors" since the attacks, and that Tunisia"s tourism
sector stood to lose 400,000 jobs, despite new security measures.
"I, for one,
believe the liability risks are too severe for now and thus am awaiting the
end of this year, to see if no other disaster happens, i.e., if the country"s
security apparatus is being efficient," he told World traveling club
Travel.
"I"ll reconsider in consequence as of early 2016."Should you
go?Travelers are still strongly discouraged from visiting Iraq and
Syria.
(Photo: Getty Images)In all the destinations mentioned here, even
Tunisia, your chances of enjoying a culturally rich, peaceful vacation are far
higher than being a victim of terrorism or unrest.
With preparation and
vigilance, such as knowing where your local embassy is and avoiding
violence-prone areas, you can increase your odds of a safe trip.When contacted
by World traveling club Travel, U.S.
State Department official William
B.
Cocks did point out some places to avoid:"To be clear, travel to Iraq and
Syria remains very dangerous and the U.S.
government strongly discourages
U.S.
citizens traveling to Iraq or Syria to fight against ISIL," Cocks
said.""U.S.
citizens should avoid areas near the Syrian, Turkish, or Iranian
borders, which are especially dangerous and not always clearly defined."" The
State Department offers country-by-country updates for travelers, with
information on any recent unrest, plus Travel Warnings with specific regional
threats and more limited Travel Alerts.
It also offers the STEP program, where
travelers can receive information wherever they are and be easier for their
loved ones to locate in case of emergency.WATCH:"Heaven on Earth: The Hidden
Oasis of the Arabian Desert
Let World traveling club Travel inspire you
every day.
Check out our original adventure travel series, "A Broad Abroad."
An Islamic
State of Iraq and the Levant fighter waves a Black flag during a military
parade in the Raqqa province in Syria.
Emphasizing the fact that an attack can
happen anywhere, U.S.
officials have tightened security measures for flights
coming from Mideast airports.
"You know while we can't rule anything in or
out, we have to consider the possibility that of potential terrorist
involvement here," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters
Friday.
Those challenges are especially acute in the Mideast: the most recent
example is the crash of an Russian commercial plane in Egypt – ISIS is
claiming responsibility, and local investigators are "90 percent sure"
that a bomb caused it, according to a Reuters report.

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