North Africa struggles to win back tourists

Tour operators have reduced the cost of packages to Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco in response to declining visitor numbers.

Mike Greenacre, managing director of the Co-operative Travel, said that sales of holidays to Egypt and Tunisia during March and April fell by 50 per cent and 30 per cent respectively, compared with the same period last year. Subsequently, the average price of a holiday to Egypt has fallen by 10 per cent.

Tui Travel, which has lost £29 million as a result of unrest in North Africa, has cut the price of selected holidays by nearly half, and Longwood Holidays has reduced the cost of breaks to Egypt by up to a quarter.

Amr Badr, managing director of Abercrombie and Kent, a luxury holiday specialist, said that now was the perfect time to visit Egypt.

“Those who take the time to visit will enjoy crowd-free destinations,” he said.

Abercrombie and Kent’s partner hotels are providing complimentary nights, free room upgrades and dining offers in an attempt to entice holidaymakers.

Between four and six million people are expected to visit Egypt in 2011, down from 13 million last year.

Fewer than 15,000 Britons visited Tunisia in March, compared with nearly 24,000 during the same month in 2010, the Tunisian National Tourist Office has claimed.

Peter Lilley, chief executive of the Middle East and North Africa Travel Association, said that tourists willing to travel to Egypt and Tunisia would be rewarded with good offers.

“Many people, particularly those with young families, will want to travel elsewhere this year,” he said. “But if you take the view that these things can happen anywhere, then there are some excellent holiday deals to be had.”

He said visitors to Morocco had been largely undeterred by last month’s bomb attack in Marrakesh, in which 17 people were killed, but the flight-comparison website this week reported a fall of 28 per cent in searches for flights to the country.

The Foreign Office lifted in February its advisory against all but essential travel to Tunisia and parts of Egypt, but it says that outbreaks of violence are still possible.

Last weekend 12 people were killed during sectarian violence in Cairo’s Imbaba district. Curfews remain in place at night in Egypt and Tunisia – although they are not enforced in tourist areas.

Source:  / eTN

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