by Dania Saadi*The UK-based travel company Thomas Cook (photo) says it expects bookings to Greece and Egypt to bolster earnings growth for the financial year that ends this month.
It is projecting growth on a constant currency basis, despite warning in July that customers’ cancellation of holidays to Tunisia and concerns about Greece’s potential exit from the euro zone would cut operating profit by about £25 million (Dh140.5m).
“In terms of destinations, with Tunisia effectively closed for the time being, we have seen a significant increase in the number of customers travelling to Greece and Egypt, while our strategy to invest in long-haul routes is paying off, with particularly strong growth in holidays to the US and the Caribbean,” the company said.
Thomas Cook halted its flights to Tunisia after 30 Britons were killed in June in an attack on a beach hotel in Sousse on the Mediterranean coast.
The attack, in which 38 people were killed, was claimed by ISIL, which has occupied large areas of Iraq and Syria.
ISIL has also claimed responsibility for the gun attack at Bardo National Museum in the capital Tunis in March, in which 21 people, mostly tourists, were killed.
Tourist arrivals to Tunisia in the first eight months of this year declined 24 per cent to 3.85 million from the year-earlier period, according to Tunisia’s ministry of tourism.
Tourism accounts for about 7 per cent of Tunisia’s GDP.
Egypt received 4.7 million tourists in the first half of this year, up from 4.4 million during the same period last year. The country expects to welcome 11 million tourists this year, up from 9.9 million last year. Its top tourist source countries include Russia, Britain, Germany, Italy and Poland.
Tourism accounted for 9 per cent of Egypt’s GDP last year.
* Dania Saadi is a freelance reporter based in Dubai. She has worked for Lebanon’s Daily Star, Bloomberg News, Reuters and Dow Jones