Egypt Still Ranks in the Top Destination Wish List

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The civil unrest in Egypt has done little to diminish its lure as a leading destination for British tourists according to research due to be published next month.

tourists tend to have short memories. This research shows that Egypt will probably recover rapidly

Academics at the University of Plymouth and Bournemouth University have been surveying the public’s perception of countries in the Middle East over the past year, before the onset of regime change and government suppression and have continued to monitor the changes in people’s perceptions as events in the Middle East have unfolded.

They have found that the shockwaves felt by the fall of President Mubarak have not diminished the attraction of Egypt as a tourist destination where tourists go to enjoy Cairo, Luxor, the Nile and the country’s many diving resorts.

But while Egypt’s pulling power in the minds of tourists has remained healthy, other countries in the region have not fared so well. Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Palestine all came at the top of the ‘definitely would not go to’ list.

The project, which commenced in October 2010 prior to the unrest, has been led by Dr Yeganeh Morakabati, Lecturer in Marketing at Plymouth, in conjunction with one of the top tourism economists in the world, Professor John Fletcher from Bournemouth University.

Dr Morakabati said: “It has been fascinating to watch the effects of the political tensions and violence, in countries such as Egypt and Libya, unfold in recent months as the survey has continued to monitor perceptions real-time as they change.

“In the case of Egypt, although people have perceived a slightly higher risk, it hasn’t stopped them from wanting to go there. Egypt is a unique destination with many unique features and the British have a long standing travelling relationship with the country.”

Using online and mail surveys, people across the UK were asked to reveal their perceptions of travel risk in the Middle East – such as terrorism, food poisoning, or crime – and which countries they would or would not go to if time and money was not an obstacle.

Professor Fletcher, Director of the International Centre for Tourism & Hospitality Research; and Head of Bournemouth University’s Graduate School, said: “Tourists tend to paint their geography of the planet with quite a broad brush and, therefore, when events happen that negatively impact on one country they often spill over and impact neighbouring countries in the minds of tourists.

“Therefore, the recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya could be expected to have coloured the views of potential tourists to the Middle East in general. However, tourists also tend to have short memories. This research shows that Egypt will probably recover rapidly from recent events and the tourists will quickly return.”

The survey takes into account the participants’ age, religion, political affiliation and gender, and groups responses into one of three categories: I would definitely go; I am not sure, and; I definitely would not go.

Dr Morakabati added: “Although it is correct that some countries are not very prominent on the tourism destination radar in the Middle East, it is not because of their lack of attractions. Many countries, such as Iran and Jordan, have heritage and attractions that could rival any other destination in the world.

“The fact that they are not seen as desirable as other countries, such as Egypt, may well be a result of people’s travel risk perceptions and this was something that we wanted to explore.”

Notes to Editors:
For more information, please telephone Andrew Merrington in the University of Plymouth Press Office on 01752 588003, or Caroline Farwell in Bournemouth University’s PR Team on 01202 961033.
About the University of Plymouth
Consistently ranked one of the top modern universities in the UK, Plymouth has a strong record of excellence, enterprise and innovation across its teaching and research activities and is distinguished by its long-term engagement with employers.
With around 30,000 students, including those studying at its partner FE colleges throughout the South West, the university is one of largest in the UK. With four government-funded Centres for Excellence in Teaching & Learning, the maximum awarded to any single institution, the university enjoys a high rate of graduate employment and has recently invested more than £110 million in state-of-the-art facilities to enhance the student experience.
Plymouth is ranked in the top 50 research universities in the UK*. The results of the Research Assessment Exercise 2008 showed the majority of areas submitted by the university included world-leading research, achieving the highest rating possible, scoring 4 stars. Overall, 80% of the research was judged as being of international repute.
As the enterprise university, the University of Plymouth delivers outstanding economic, social and cultural return for business, the professions, the public sector and its wider community.
For further information go to http://www.plymouth.ac.uk
*Research Fortnight league table
About Bournemouth University

Bournemouth University has developed a strong reputation for offering a wide range of opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate education, research and enterprise. Inspired by a clear vision for the future we continue to develop new initiatives and programmes, to realise the potential of staff and students.
BU is the UK’s Number One New University (first place among all institutions that became universities since 1992) according to The Guardian University Guide 2009 & 2010. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education)

In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) BU is the fourth most improved university in the UK for the quality of its research (according to Times Higher Education).

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Caroline Farwell
BOURNEMOUTH UNIVERSITY
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