MENATA: DO NOT PANIC
Arab travel group urges jittery industry to hold its nerve
Feb 10, 2011
Airlines and tour operators should try and avoid over-reacting to outbreaks of unrest in Arab countries, according to the Middle East and North Africa Travel Association.
Welcoming the decision by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to amend its travel advice for Tunisia so that potential visitors are no longer being told to avoid all but essential travel to the country, MENATA’s Executive Director Peter Lilley said: “Situations can change very quickly. It would be far better if airlines and tour operators opted to make short-term decisions based on real evidence rather than playing soothsayer and trying to predict the future.”
He said: It doesn’t help to fly tourists home early from unaffected areas or to cancel flights to particular destinations for a whole season. What might initially look as being a cautionary and rational response to public unrest can very quickly come to be seen as a panicky, knee-jerk reaction which benefited no-one.”
Mr Lilley added: “There’s no denying that these are dramatic – and traumatic – times in the Arab world but if we really want to help countries like Tunisia and Egypt which depend enormously on income from tourists, the worst thing we can to do is to start thinking of these countries as being off-limits for months on end. We should also refrain from giving the impression that there is imminent trouble throughout the Arab world and that holidaymakers are best advised to boycott the whole region. This is a time for those involved in promoting tourism to the Arab world to hold their nerve.”