Tourism bounces back in Egypt and Tunisia, says CiR

By Pepi Sappal |

Sharm el Sheikh Airport

Sharm el Sheikh Airport witnessed an increase in passenger numbers in Q3 this year, and further growth is predicted for next year.

Both Egypt and Tunisia are expected to see a recovery in passenger traffic and tourism over the next six months, thanks to subsiding safety fears, according to Counter Intelligence Retail (CiR).

The latest analysis from CiR’s data arm Business Lounge, confirms earlier reports that tourism to the North African region – particularly Egypt and Tunisia – is bouncing back.

Egypt, for example, recorded strong growth of +20.1% passengers in August alone this year, followed by +13.4% increase in Q3 2017. Egypt’s top four airports also handled an additional 810,000 tourists in Q3, compared to the same period last year, states CiR.

Although passenger numbers slipped at the airports of Cairo (-0.5%) and Alexandria (-6.0%), Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh airports saw strong year-on-year increases of +84.6% and +55.0%, respectively.

While this increase in passenger numbers appears quite dramatic, the reason is clearly that it comes on the back of a very weak period for air traffic, says Garry Stasiulevicuis, Founder and President of CiR. “Nevertheless, they show that tourists are returning to the Red Sea, which is good news for duty free operators, as well as the entire resort industry.”


Egypt & Tunisia Recovery Chart

Strong passenger growth is forecast for both Egypt and Tunisia over the next six months. Click to enlarge.


However, the market remains flat for intra-regional travel from the Middle East and Africa to Egypt (+0.5%). Much of that is due to a lack of flights to and from Doha, while Qatar remains cut off from many states in the region as a result of the well-publicised ongoing boycott by certain Arab states – as noted by CiR.

001a sharm el sheikh

Sharm el Sheikh’s resorts are popular again, particularly with European tourists.


Nevertheless, the outlook for the region over the next six months is positive.

“Although the North African region has struggled in recent years as a result of well-publicised terrorist activity – such as the 2015 Sousse beach attack in Tunisia and the bombing of a Russian passenger plane travelling from Saint Petersburg to Sharm El Sheikh in the same year – confidence in the region is returning,” claims Stasiulevicuis.

“Conditions in the affected countries have been improving and safety fears appear to be subsiding, offering a lifeline for the beleaguered tourism and duty free businesses across the region.”

For North Africa as a whole, annual capacity for flights departing from the region’s airports is currently up at +5% for 2017, with a further +8% increase expected in the first four months of 2018.


The outlook for the popular holiday destinations of Egypt and Tunisia – is particularly positive, says CiR. Passengers travelling to Egypt are forecast to increase +8.0% over the next six months (between November 2017-April 2018), with the biggest increases from Europe (+29.1%), followed by the Americas (+27.0%), then Asia Pacific (+8.2%).

Egypt will see the biggest increase in tourism from Germany (+39.7%), followed by the UK (+20.9%) and Italy (+20.9%). The ‘safety-conscious’ Chinese tourists are also returning to the country – up +2.2%, adds CiR.

Meanwhile, tourism to Tunisia is forecast to increase +9.0% over the next six months (between November 2017 and March 2018). Tourism from Europe is particularly promising, and set to increase by +10.4%, with the biggest increase in passengers from Germany (+34.1%), followed by France (+14.6%).

However, Stasiulevicuis cautions that the outlook, particularly for Egypt, might change: “The recent massacre at the Sufi mosque in northern Sinai could affect the recovery. Even though this brutal attack was far away from any tourist areas, it may impact traveller sentiment.

“We will be updating our Business Lounge forecasts as we receive new data,” he adds.

African Capacity

The North African region recovers, with departing flights up +5.4% in 2017. Click to enlarge.


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