Muhammad Afazaz

From Morocco to Istanbul, through Tunisia and Egypt, then Lebanon and Jordan, leading Arab and Islamic tourist destinations have been negatively affected by the repercussions of the Corona virus. Thousands of reservations were canceled, hundreds of flights stopped, workers and jobs disrupted, and the list of losses is expanding day by day.

Al-Jazeera Net monitored these effects and spoke to officials, specialists in the tourism sector and economic experts in the following joint report, which was carried out by colleagues Ayman Fadilat, Wasim Al-Zuhairi, Abdullah Hamed, Maryam Al-Taidi, Muhammad Latifi, and Khalil Mabrouk.

Jordan .. bankruptcy cases
Experts and stakeholders in the Jordanian tourism sector estimated the cancellation of tourist reservations by more than 30% during the month of March, in addition to stopping the demand for tourism programs.

The reason, according to experts, is due to the flight ban and the failure to receive tourist groups from China, South Korea, Italy and Iran.

These experts confirm that the risk managed to stop future reservations, after the kingdom registered tourist reservations over the months of this year and the beginning of next year 2021.

The head of the Jordanian Tourism Agents Association, Muhammad Samih, described the tourism situation in Jordan during the past and current months as "catastrophic", and told Al Jazeera Net, "We are heading towards a bankruptcy of major airlines, tourist offices, hotels, tourist transport and others."

He added that this matter will be reflected in the outcome of all service providers, and if the situation continues to be the same, "We will see the closure of the tourist offices and the dismissal of employees due to the cancellation of reservations and the decline in sales of tourist offers."

The same spokesman added that Saudi Arabia's sudden decision to stop Umrah led to more losses, especially since about seven thousand pilgrims obtained a special Umrah visa, at a cost of approximately 140 thousand dollars.

As for tourism activities of all kinds, it was "negatively affected by the spread of Corona virus," says Emad Hejazin, the Secretary General of the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism.

And he adds to Al-Jazeera Net that there are reservations that have been canceled, and others in the event of anticipation of the state of receding disease, and there are tourist activities and conferences that have been postponed.

Hijazin expected that domestic domestic tourism will compensate for part of the losses of foreign tourism, especially that Jordanians spending on tourism and travel exceeds one billion dinars (1.4 billion dollars).

From the effects of the historical city of Jerash, northern Jordan (Al-Jazeera)

Lebanon .. two crises at the same time
In Lebanon, there are no accurate figures yet as to whether the tourism and aviation sectors are affected by the spread of the Coruna virus, according to workers and experts.

Experts attributed this to the fact that the emergence of the Corona virus was associated with the severe financial and economic crisis hitting the country, which had the greatest impact in terms of declining tourism and travel in the country.

However, according to the head of the Syndicate of Travel and Tourism Owners Syndicate in Lebanon, Jean Abboud, many flights were canceled to and from Beirut, where a decrease in the number of flights through Rafic Hariri International Airport was recorded back and forth from 130 flights per day before the financial and economic crisis and the spread of the Corona virus to nearly Currently thirty trip.

According to Abboud, the number of passengers decreased from 13,000 per day to between five and six thousand passengers, and sales of travel and tourism companies decreased monthly from about sixty million dollars before the financial crisis and the spread of the Corna virus to 18 million dollars in February.

He also talked about canceling many reservations for the coming June and July, and all aviation offices began paying half of the salary to their employees, along with the layoffs of a number of their employees.

Abboud said that the spread of the Coruna virus and the financial crisis had caused catastrophic results as a result of the interruption of the arrival of tourists to Lebanon.

As for the economist Jassem Aujqa, he said that there are estimates indicating that foreign and domestic tourism are currently declining to zero due to the Corona virus and the financial and economic crisis.

He added that the situation of Lebanon was already deteriorating due to the economic and financial crisis, and that the spread of the Corona virus would make the situation worse in all aspects of the economy.

80% decrease in new bookings to Egypt (Al Jazeera)

Egypt .. No cancellation of existing reservations
The head of the Chamber of Tourism Companies Hossam Al-Shaer said in press statements that there is a decrease between 70% to 80% in new reservations for Egyptian destinations during this period, compared to the same period last year, due to the Corona virus. No cancellations are denied at current bookings.

According to Hassan Abdel-Salam - a former member of the Chamber of Tourism in Egypt - and Sami Suleiman and a member of the hotel room, there is no layoffs at this time.

According to the statements of the previous speakers, the future of the sector can only be determined after the full effects of the Corona virus appear on the world economy, but they are optimistic about the future.

In order to face any repercussions of the virus, the Egyptian government has formed a joint committee from the health and tourism sectors to meet permanently to discuss developments in impacts, at a time when efforts to stimulate tourism abroad and attempts to bring new tourists continue, along with circulating instructions on the environment, health and prevention among workers in tourist facilities.

Djemaa El-Fna, Marrakech, is a prominent tourist attraction in Morocco (communication sites)

Morocco .. limited impact
In Morocco, there are no accurate statistics on the extent of cancellation of reservations due to the Coronavirus, in contrast, tourism and hotel sector officials talk about delays.

But local media have reported more than ten thousand cancellations of reservations in Marrakech, one of the most important tourist destinations in Morocco.

The Royal Air Force suspended flights temporarily, starting last Sunday, March 8, towards Milan and Venice, following the Italian authorities' decision to impose quarantine on the two cities.

Tourism professionals and hoteliers formed a crisis cell to follow up and take precautionary measures.

On the official side, Saad al-Din al-Othmani, the Prime Minister, confirmed that the current epidemiological situation in Morocco is in a normal position, and that his government is ready to deal with any development.

In his opening speech to the cabinet, held on Thursday, March 5, the Prime Minister stated that there are specific scenarios for dealing with any newcomer in accordance with the international standards of the World Health Organization, which there is continuous interaction and cooperation with its experts to carry out the appropriate reaction when recording any emergency.

Omar Riahi: Travel agencies were negatively affected and lost a lot (Al-Jazeera )

Tunisia .. losses for travel agencies
In front of the retreat of most European tourist markets against the background of the spread of the Corona virus and the resulting turmoil and paralysis in the air and maritime transport sectors, Tunisia, like most global tourist destinations - observers say - will be negatively affected by this health crisis, and may lead to a decrease in the number of arrivals by about 40% until the end Next May, especially given the low influx of tourists from neighboring countries during the holy month of Ramadan.

Moez Qassem, a university professor and a specialist in tourism, told Al Jazeera Net that the percentage of European tourists represents about 30% of the total number of arrivals on the Tunisian tourist destination.

In turn, Omar Al-Riahi, the university's director for travel and tourism agencies, explained that travel agencies were negatively affected and lost a lot of money with the new Corona virus, as many programmed trips to Italy, Europe and Saudi Arabia were canceled.

But he told Al Jazeera Net, "There are no accurate numbers and data about the employees who have been laid off."

For his part, Tunisian-African Business Council President Bassam El-Wakil expected that the Tunisian industry will witness losses in the next six months that may range between 30% and 40% of the productive capacity.

As for Sadiq Jeboun, an economic analyst, he expressed his belief that the trade balance deficit between Tunisia and China will be further exacerbated, at a time when this deficit is currently at six billion dinars (out of a total of 19 billion dinars).

The numbers also indicate the cancellation of 42 series of non-scheduled flights between Tunisia and Jeddah and between Tunisia and Medina, including 28 series belonging to Tunisian Airlines and 14 series for the new airline, "Novellar", according to Saudi Arabia's decision to suspend pilgrims entering its territory to avoid the possibility of the spread of the Corona virus.

Lake Uzungol is a favorite destination for tourists in Turkey (Al Jazeera Net - Archive)

Turkey is a beneficial harmful goddess
The scenery of the tourism sector in Turkey is still clouded by the spread of the Corona virus, among data talking about limited losses incurred by the sector and others indicating that it benefits from the fact that Turkey is one of the few tourist destinations that are still relatively safe from Corona disease.

The losses receded in stopping the reception of Chinese tourists, who were canceled thirty thousand hotel reservations for them in the regions of Cappadocia, Denizli, Nevsehir and Istanbul.

There was also a decrease in the number of Turkish Airlines flights to seven airports in Italy, from 119 to 52 weekly.

In contrast, the data indicate a significant increase in the number of tourists from other countries (other than China and Italy), the most important of which are the Philippines, Pakistan, Germany, Greece and Britain.

The hotel rooms maintained the same average rates and generally the same occupancy levels in Turkish spring tourism regions, especially Istanbul, Antalya and Fethiye.

The tourism sectors or the trade unions did not announce the exceptions in the number of workers who were laid off.

Jacob Denlar, president of the Cappadocia Hotel Owners of Tourist Hotels, expects that Turkey will overcome the problem of low tourism from China and Italy in early April.

The number of flights decreased dramatically at Beirut airport recently after the spread of Corona virus (Al-Jazeera)

Function numbers

* Egypt

Inbound tourism contributes 15% of the country's GDP.

About three million Egyptians are associated with the tourism activity.

- The tourism sector has more than three hundred thousand direct jobs, according to official data.

- The share of the private sector reached about 98% of tourism activity.

- The number of tourists to Egypt reached more than 12 million tourists, according to official figures from last year, and it was expected to increase the number by 30%, according to official data.

The tourism sector achieved revenues of about $ 12.6 billion in the fiscal year 2018/2019.


Jordan welcomed more than 5.3 million tourists in 2019, compared to 4.9 million visitors in 2018.

Tourism revenue in Jordan increased in 2019 to 4.11 billion dinars (5.8 billion dollars), according to the Central Bank of Jordan.

- The number of workers in tourist facilities is 53 thousand workers.

35,000 tourists visited China last year, and the Ministry of Tourism's plan was to increase the number by 15-20% during the current year 2020.

- The number of tourists from Italy in 2019 reached more than 89 thousand tourists, and the Ministry of Tourism was aiming to increase the number to reach 120 thousand in the current year.

* Morocco, West, sunset

Tourism in Morocco constitutes 7% of the gross domestic product.

The tourism sector provides 750 thousand jobs, which represents about 5% of the total economic employment rate.

The number of non-resident tourists at the end of 2019 was about 13 million, an increase of 5.2%, compared to 2018.

The tourism sector achieved revenues of 78.6 billion dirhams ($ 8.11 billion) in 2019, up 7.7% from 2018.

* Lebanon

- The size of the revenue of the tourism sector has reached in some years to about $ 9.5 billion, but it is believed that in 2019 it reached about $ 3.5 billion.

- The contribution of the tourism sector to GDP last year was estimated at 8%.

Tourism sector losses are estimated at 700 million dollars last year.

- The number of workers in the officially registered tourism sector is estimated at 150,000, but the workers, directly or indirectly, reach more than four hundred thousand.

The number of Chinese visitors to Lebanon was very small and did not exceed 20,000 last year.

- According to Middle East Airlines (Lebanese Airlines), stopping the company's flights to a number of Arab countries due to Corona costs the company about ninety thousand dollars per day, as well as stopping the flights to Italy and some European countries cost them about twenty thousand dollars per day.

The sector contributes to providing job opportunities for about 25% of the Lebanese workforce, but in recent years it has retreated to the limits of 19%.

- The number of approved travel companies in Lebanon is 213.

- During the first eight months of 2019, Lebanon received more than one million and four hundred thousand tourists, according to the former Lebanese Minister of Tourism, Awadis Kidanian.

Turkey welcomed about 52 million tourists in 2019 (Al-Jazira)


European tourists account for 29.6% of the total number of arrivals on Tunisian tourist destinations.

- In 2019, Tunisia attracted 124,000 Italian tourists and more than 890,000 French tourists, while the number of Chinese tourists reached about thirty thousand tourists, which is one of the most affected by the Corona epidemic at the present time.

As of February, Tunisia attracted around 55 million tourists, an increase of 9.8%.

- Revenues for this period amounted to 723.4 million Tunisian dinars, an increase of 27.6%, according to Nabeeh Busta, of the Ministry of Tourism Studies Center for Al Jazeera Net.

In 2019, the number of tourists to Tunisia was 9.4 million, according to local media.

- Tourism revenue in Tunisia reached more than 5.5 billion Tunisian dinars last year.


- 2019: The total number of tourists who visited Turkey in 2019 was about 52 million, an increase of more than 12%, compared to 2018, according to the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Tourism sector revenue in the past year was $ 34.5 billion, an increase of 17% over 2018.

- The tourism sector contributes 12.1% of the Turkish gross product, according to the data of the Turkish Statistical Institute.

- The number of officially registered workers in the tourism sector is one million, representing 20% ​​of the total number of workers in this sector of five million Turkish, according to statistics of the Middle East Federation of Tourism and Hotels.

- The number of Chinese tourists who visited Turkey last year reached 426,000.

- The number of Italian tourists to Turkey reached more than 311 thousand tourists, which is a modest number compared to European tourism, which occupies the first four ranks in the number of arrivals to Turkey during the same year.

- Thirty thousand hotel reservations were canceled for Chinese tourists due to the Corona virus, mostly in Istanbul, Nevsehir and Denizli.