Changing Times for Tourism
The cataclysmic and often tragic events that have taken place around Europe’s borders in recent times are having a seismic effect on tourism and the industries that it supports.
In the Eastern Mediterranean, the ancient gems of Jordan, temples and tombs carved into the pink rocks of Petra included, remain virtually out of bounds given the conflict on its borders.
Sharm El Sheikh on the Sinai peninsula, once bustling with visitors from the north of Europe lies quietly waiting and hoping for their return. The Egyptian mainland, with its treasures of antiquity and romantic airs of the Nile also hosts empty spaces where tourist would once jostle, spend, and enjoy. The guides have no-one to guide, the camels no tourists to carry.
The seat of the great Carthaginian Empire, Tunis, is devoid of amateur historians and admirers of ancient architecture, and its beaches equally deserted.
The situation in France has not been helped by events of the recent past, and the unrest in Turkey has led to much reduced tourist numbers in the north eastern Mediterranean.
Tourists have a duty to perform, otherwise they wouldn’t be called tourists. By their very nature, they have to tour, and tour they will.
Destinations that have often been labelled as “too far to bother” are seeing a surge of popularity, and long haul flights to destinations such as Mexico, the Caribbean, Maldives and Seychelles have all taken an upswing in tourist numbers.
For the sun seeking Brits, along with many other northern Europeans, Spain has been a major player in Mediterranean tourism. Visitor figures released for the last year show that numbers have risen to over 65million per year and look set to rise.
This makes Spain and the Balearic islands of Majorca, Minorca, and Ibiza not only the most popular of the summer Mediterranean destinations, but they are also expecting to see an increase in arrivals over the Christmas period.
This puts Spain in the top of the world ranking for destinations along with the USA, France, and China in terms of numbers and receipts.
The Spanish Canary islands are seeing such influxes of tourist numbers that officials there are becoming concerned about visitor numbers and a “Magaluf effect”.
With visitor numbers at around 13million per year and rising, the tourist industry supports about 30% of GDP. With a population of 2.1million carrying an unemployment figure of 250,000, it may seem surprising that they may cap the number of tourists visiting.
The wish is preserve an environment of nature, space, and quality, and avoid turning swathes of the islands into another Magaluf, which is not the quality tradition that the islands want to uphold.