Mixed messages on travel to Africa and Middle East continue

Mixed messages on travel to Africa and Middle East continue

The Middle East & North Africa Travel Association (MENATA) has accused the travel industry of sending out mixed messages to the travelling public despite the association doing so itself. Two weeks ago, Peter Lilley, executive director of MENATA, said that tour operator capacity cutbacks in Tunisia had dented consumer confidence. “Even quite modest cutbacks in capacity can potentially undermine consumer confidence as it may give the impression that Tunisia has not fully recovered.  It also, rather perversely, makes the destination more difficult to book for some holidaymakers who do want to go,” he said back then. However in a statement sent today, Lilley suggested that things indeed had not fully recovered and that the capacity reduction clashed with the tourism offices’ claim that resorts are safe. “Both Egypt and Tunisia are currently ruled by interim presidents and temporary governments which have never been seen as the hallmarks of stolidness and stability,” said Lilley. “Both countries also remain quite volatile and no-one can completely rule out the possibility of further street protests.” He said the industry needed to be upfront to travellers and accept that they may opt for a “what they perceive as a safer European resort.” He said those booking holidays to Egypt and Tunisia should be prepared to have their plans disrupted. “We believe the countries are essentially safe and that there is no real reason not to visit. Both countries desperately need tourists to return and they can be assured of a warm welcome,” explained Lilley. “But there are some risks involved and we feel it is better to be upfront about those – to assist potential holidaymakers to make an informed decision.”

Gary Marshall
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Gary Marshall
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