HTS 2041: The Modern Middle East

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Tourism in Egypt Suffers Amid Recent Unrest

We might be learning about the modern history of the Middle East, and Egypt is certainly within direct focus of those studies, but I will never think of Egypt in the same sense as other countries in the region. When I think of Egypt the first things that pop into my mind are images of the huge pyramids and giant monuments built thousands of years ago by the ancient Egyptians. While the ancient Egyptians certainly had little to do with what we are studying, these remnants still have a large impact on Egypt today.

Giza Pyramids

Giza Pyramids

Major tourist attractions are not limited to just the Great Pyramid of Giza, which is the oldest of the seven wonders of the ancient world or even the well-known Great Sphinx.  There are many other wonders that draw in tourism, things not having anything to do with the ancient world such as boat tours of the Nile and the many Mosques, which highlight Egypt’s rich Islamic history. Every year 10+ million tourists flood Egypt for the purpose of catching a glimpse of the great pyramids or to walk through the valley of kings.  In fact, tourism alone is responsible for more than 10% of the entire Egyptian economy. It also employs around 12% of the Egyptian workforce.

Cruise Ship On The Nile

Cruise Ship On The Nile

 

From those numbers it is easy to see that tourism is a major resource for Egypt and something that cannot afford to suffer as it has in recent years of political unrest. In the years before, during a stable regime, Egypt saw tourist numbers exceed 14 million. However, in 2011 Egypt saw just over 10 million tourists. That means that tourism dropped roughly 30% since the collapse of the Mubarak regime. There is a good reason too, as safety is a primary concern for those who travel abroad and especially in the hot bed Middle East. The recent Egyptian revolution has taken its toll on the soundness of the tourist economy with security being put out of sight out of mind amidst the political turmoil.

Egypt was found to be among the most unsafe places to travel in a 2013 safety index. It ranked at the bottom in terms of safety and security, putting it below countries like Pakistan and Yemen in the overall rankings. Yikes! These numbers are definitely having a negative impact on the tourism economy. Without even considering the number of travelers, nearly all contracts with foreign tourism companies have been canceled. Even more recently, unhappy bazaar owners have shut down the routs to the tourist heavy Valley of Kings along with many other notable monuments in the region of Luxor, Egypt. With the inept and preoccupied government in place, there’s no telling when the sites will reopen.

Luxor, West Bank: Valley of Kings

Luxor, West Bank: Valley of Kings

In closing, I think it is a travesty that so many amazing landmarks and so much history is caught up in the political strife surrounding Egypt today. It is my sincere hope that they can get their acts together and come to some peaceful resolution on the direction of their government so that one day I might be able to see the fascinating monuments and ancient treasures for myself without worrying about stepping into somebodies line of fire.

Resources:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/dispatches/2013/01/30/egypt-cairo-tourism-hotel-protests/1876563/

http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/03/04/hatshepsut-valley-of-the-kings-completely-closed/

http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/03/11/egypt-less-safe-tourist-destination-than-pakistan-yemen-and-chad-wef/#dnePhoto/0/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Egypt#cite_note-ne-2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt

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22 Comments

  1. ojanus3 says:

    This is an interesting blog post! The USA Today post definitely makes it obvious of why tourism is taking hits – with riots occuring right outside their doors. I am interested in following the economy of Egypt during this time of political unrest to track the exact patterns that occur. One thing I wish you did was maybe give a statistic of tourism in the economies of other countries to compare.

  2. Kaitlyn Johnson says:

    This is definitely a great spin on these blog posts! Although personally, I think I would still travel to Egypt to see these sights today if I had a chance, I think my mother would kill me. It is completely understandable how political unrest and the theme of violence in the region would dampen tourism. Thanks for a good post!

  3. nholdaway3 says:

    It is surprising how tourism is ingrained in Egypt’s economy. I was especially surprised to read it fell below Pakistan in the safety index. I wounder if the rioters realize how much they are hurting the economy or if that is one of their goals? Either way I am curious to see the tourism in the other nearby countries like orjanus3.

  4. mjuren3 says:

    It’s always interesting to me when we talk about Egypt in this class because in my mind it doesn’t really occupy what I traditionally think of as the “Middle East”, I always think of the pyramids and the Nile first as well. I’ve always wanted to visit Egypt, and hope that one day the political situation there is stable enough to visit, a.k.a not ranked the worst in the world for safety!

  5. akranc3 says:

    Nice spin on the blog posts. In regards to seeing parts of Egypt anytime soon, don’t expect that to happen. Unrest in countries where the government is essentially autocrat takes a long time to die down. However, I’m sure that within the next few years Egypt will get its act together and you’ll be able to get out there.

  6. tnatoli3 says:

    I lived in Europe for 5 years and that kind of sucked the travelling around and visiting other countries out of me, but Egypt has always been one place that one day I would like to visit. Just the age of the pyramids alone is very interesting. The same images pop into my head when I think about Egypt and until this class I really did not associate it with the middle east either. I think it is because it is located mostly in Africa.

  7. kolson23 says:

    Nice post, I had heard it was becoming less safe for tourists to visit Egypt, but I did not know it was at such a bad level. I also did not realize how much a decline in tourism would impact the economy. I agree with many when the have said they don’t usually associate Egypt with the Middle East. It has always been a place different from the rest to me. I would like to go and visit someday.

  8. I definitely agree to what most people are saying here. Ever since we saw violence happen over in the middle east and Egypt, the safety factor plays a huge role. I do also wonder what the Egyptian people think of themselves as being a cause of tourists decline? I didn’t realize that tourism accounts for 10% of the economy! I wonder what other countries percentages are?

  9. shaimsn says:

    This post reminded me of an email I got a while a go.
    Follow the link to see amazing touristic places in the Middle East! Plus amazing pictures.

  10. marymsherman says:

    This post made me recall the bus crash that happened in Egypt I think a little over a year ago. Many tourists died and the safety and regulations overseen by the government was put in question by the international community. Having government unrest can not help this situation either in the least. Its unfortunate to see people’s livelihoods affected by the unrest in the area, but at the same time government oppression isn’t desired for them either.

  11. Hopefully the country can stabilize quickly and return the booming business of tourism. Also, i hope that none of these ancient artifacts are damaged during this time of unrest. It would be very easy for a riot to break out in a place and for looters to vandalize or steal parts of Egyptian history.

  12. nathenj65 says:

    I thought this was a great post because it took a different look into the country then what we have been seeing. It was a very different point of view and one i didn’t think of in the past. I agree with James in that i really hope that the country is able to stabilize because i am right there with you i would love to go see these tourist spots as well. I was just having a conversation about this the other day with a friend. Some of the places that i have always wanted to see for one reason or another or no longer very safe to go travel too. And until this changes a lot of big tourist places in this area will not be able to visited and the economies are going to feel their absence.

  13. chai164 says:

    I agree with your statement about how one’s first impression of Egypt used to be of the pyramids and the Sphinx, but now it’s of the Arab Spring, revolts, unrest, and fighting.

    Egypt has been on my bucket list for years and hopefully one day, things will settle down and their economy can truly bounce back.

  14. religion317 says:

    Here’s a link to a map of rates of homicides by firearm, globally. How unsafe is Egypt really?

  15. sstephenson3 says:

    This was a good article and well researched. While I agree that crashing the Egyptian economy would be an incredibly bad thing to happen, I can also see that perhaps the outcomes of their political struggles is worth the slight temporary dip in their tourist base.

  16. shitianliu says:

    Well, it is interesting to see the map of rates of homicides by firearm below this blog. How strange that going to Egypt is actually safer than staying in the US in terms of staying out of homicides by firearm. However, it is natural for people to think that a unrest state is dangerous to travel, because you would never know what is going to happen the next second. Maybe you will get shot when walking in a street if those revolter coincidently choose to revolt at that moment in that street. More importantly, the new president of Egypt, Morsi, is also being attacked both by his citizens and international society currently. Who knows what is going to happen to Egypt!

  17. Well, it is interesting to see the map of rates of homicides by firearm below this blog. How strange that going to Egypt is actually safer than staying in the US in terms of staying out of homicides by firearm. However, it is natural for people to think that a unrest state is dangerous to travel, because you would never know what is going to happen the next second. Maybe you will get shot when walking in a street if those revolter coincidently choose to revolt at that moment in that street. More importantly, the new president of Egypt, Morsi, is also being attacked both by his citizens and international society currently. Who knows what is going to happen to Egypt!

  18. jkipp3 says:

    On the positive side, traveling to Egypt is so cheap right now! I just looked it up on Expedia: you can buy a round-trip spring break ticket to Cairo and back right now for $1256. Not bad considering it is a last-minute purchase…

  19. drippykins says:

    Without researching much, I can’t speak with 100% certainty, but I would bet that there are a number of more developed countries that have more homicides in a day than Egypt does. I’m not discounting your point, which is a great one, but I think the risk is just relative. Perhaps travelling to Egypt is a higher risk compared to travelling to other countries such as France or Japan, but i’m not sure that means the country itself is extremely dangerous and unfit for visiting. I would consider that it means I’m simply at a higher risk than going to another destination for my travels. I’m curious if the entire situation in the Middle East has a significant impact on people’s perception of Egypt as well. Just a thought.

  20. mitch7991 says:

    It would be awesome to be able to tour Egypt. I think my favorite things to do would be the boat ride on the Nile and walking through the Valley of Kings. But the people of Egypt do come first and I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes some time for them to get their government straight. But I’m sure that tourism is one of the major priorities on the the president’s to do list once things settle down.

  21. kledbetter6 says:

    It’s a shame that the Middle East is in such turmoil because, although I’ve never been, it looks like it contains some of the most beautiful regions on the earth. I wonder when the toll the decrease in tourism is taking on the economy will be detrimental enough that the government will have to address it. I’m sure they have their hands full right now, but an industry that is 10% of the economy taking a 30% hit is not something that will keep a government in power.

  22. mnicholas6 says:

    A couple of years ago I thought about studying abroad in Cairo, but my mother didn’t even consider my proposition before she told me no. Her main concern was safety. I guess moms are right about some things.

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