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Youth travel and tourism in the Middle East post-Coronavirus

May 15, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted economies worldwide, throwing industries into turmoil. The travel and tourism industry has arguably been the worst hit, facing global travel restrictions and companies temporarily halting all business. However, the current situation also gives us an opportunity to look at how to improve travel and tourism experiences when the world starts to grind once more. And forward-thinker Gal Mor, Co-founder of Abraham Hostels and Tours, already has a clear idea when it comes to the Middle East region.

“I believe that the pandemic presents an opportunity for breakthroughs in areas historically deadlocked due to religious and geopolitical conflicts. Overcoming the crisis and rebuilding the industry requires financial investments, creative thinking and a revaluation of financial and political priorities,” he said.

Prior to the outbreak, the Middle East was experiencing an increase in millennial travellers advocating land-based modes of transport as a means of exploring the region. This said, the complexities of the border restrictions in place can make travelling overland through the region difficult. If restrictions are eased, overland travel would be beneficial to youth travellers post-pandemic by allowing them to explore, responsibly and economically, a fascinating and culturally rich region of the world in a way previously impossible. It could also set a precedence for other conflict-ridden regions of the world, encouraging them to open up and welcome youth travellers.

“I feel that there is great potential for DMO’s, travel authorities and governments in the Middle East to work closer together at this specific point in time, in order to save both the tourism industry as well as national economies,” said Gal.

To this end, Gal has penned a proposal for rebuilding tourism within the Middle East, outlining the great potential for overland travel post-pandemic:

The Challenge
The Middle East is a shining example of a region historically deadlocked over the Arab Israeli Conflict.  A conflict which hinders the ability of international tourists to enjoy freedom and ease of overland travel within the region, and specifically between Israel and its neighboring countries.

The Opportunity
The Coronavirus catastrophe provides a historical opportunity to witness financial survival considerations, supersede historical considerations of conflict and religion, to allow for the opening of borders between Israel and: Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia (Via the Gulf of Aqaba) for international travelers for the purpose of tourism.
There is also a golden opportunity to fully maximize the potential of existent tourism between Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the West Bank, by making overland travel and crossing much smoother and more accessible, by enhancing and developing cooperation between respective tourism industry businesses and by encouraging cooperation between DMO’s.
The overland travel trend started gaining momentum prior to the Coronavirus outbreak. It is safe to assume that this trend will gain enhanced momentum post-Coronavirus due to heightened fear of flights, rising popularity of sustainable travel values, and the financial collapse of a number of low-cost airlines leading to a rise in the cost of flying.    

The Solution
 Action points towards fulfilling this vision:

  1. Opening the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights to allow international travellers to cross between Israel and Syria.
  2. Opening the Rosh Hanikra crossing to allow international travellers to cross between Israel and Lebanon. 
  3. Allow for public ferry travel from Eilat to Saudi Arabia Via the Golf of Aqaba.
  4. Allow International travellers to cross into Jordan via the Allenby border crossing.
    1. Create professional forums and platforms for cooperation between Israeli Tourism industry players and their regional counterparts to encourage seamless regional products and to synergize marketing efforts.
  5. Improve existing border crossing facilities by:  
    1. Extending opening hours to 24/7.
    2. Reducing or waiving all border crossing fees and taxes.
    3. Renovating and improving border crossing facilities and checkpoints to match the highest international standards of customer oriented service and design.
    4. Improve security screening procedures to minimize waste of time, grief, and hassle of travellers. 

“A post-Coronavirus Middle East with freedom of movement for international travellers is by far the most effective way to accelerate and boost the recovery of regional tourism industries, and to support the hasty recovery of the respective economies of the participating countries,” Gal concludes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted economies worldwide, throwing industries into turmoil. The travel and tourism industry has arguably been the worst hit, facing global travel restrictions and companies temporarily halting all business. However, the current situation also gives us an opportunity to look at how to improve travel and tourism experiences when the world starts to grind once more. And forward-thinker Gal Mor, Co-founder of Abraham Hostels and Tours, already has a clear idea when it comes to the Middle East region.

“I believe that the pandemic presents an opportunity for breakthroughs in areas historically deadlocked due to religious and geopolitical conflicts. Overcoming the crisis and rebuilding the industry requires financial investments, creative thinking and a revaluation of financial and political priorities,” he said.

Prior to the outbreak, the Middle East was experiencing an increase in millennial travellers advocating land-based modes of transport as a means of exploring the region. This said, the complexities of the border restrictions in place can make travelling overland through the region difficult. If restrictions are eased, overland travel would be beneficial to youth travellers post-pandemic by allowing them to explore, responsibly and economically, a fascinating and culturally rich region of the world in a way previously impossible. It could also set a precedence for other conflict-ridden regions of the world, encouraging them to open up and welcome youth travellers.

“I feel that there is great potential for DMO’s, travel authorities and governments in the Middle East to work closer together at this specific point in time, in order to save both the tourism industry as well as national economies,” said Gal.

To this end, Gal has penned a proposal for rebuilding tourism within the Middle East, outlining the great potential for overland travel post-pandemic:

The Challenge
The Middle East is a shining example of a region historically deadlocked over the Arab Israeli Conflict.  A conflict which hinders the ability of international tourists to enjoy freedom and ease of overland travel within the region, and specifically between Israel and its neighboring countries.

The Opportunity
The Coronavirus catastrophe provides a historical opportunity to witness financial survival considerations, supersede historical considerations of conflict and religion, to allow for the opening of borders between Israel and: Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia (Via the Gulf of Aqaba) for international travelers for the purpose of tourism.
There is also a golden opportunity to fully maximize the potential of existent tourism between Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the West Bank, by making overland travel and crossing much smoother and more accessible, by enhancing and developing cooperation between respective tourism industry businesses and by encouraging cooperation between DMO’s.
The overland travel trend started gaining momentum prior to the Coronavirus outbreak. It is safe to assume that this trend will gain enhanced momentum post-Coronavirus due to heightened fear of flights, rising popularity of sustainable travel values, and the financial collapse of a number of low-cost airlines leading to a rise in the cost of flying.    

The Solution
 Action points towards fulfilling this vision:
     1.Opening the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights to allow international travellers to cross between Israel and Syria.
     2. Opening the Rosh Hanikra crossing to allow international travellers to cross between Israel and Lebanon.
     3. Allow for public ferry travel from Eilat to Saudi Arabia Via the Golf of Aqaba.
     4. Allow International travellers to cross into Jordan via the Allenby border crossing.
        1. Create professional forums and platforms for cooperation between Israeli Tourism industry players and their regional counterparts to   encourage seamless regional products and to synergize marketing efforts.
     5. Improve existing border crossing facilities by:  

  1. Extending opening hours to 24/7.
  2. Reducing or waiving all border crossing fees and taxes.
  3. Renovating and improving border crossing facilities and checkpoints to match the highest international standards of customer oriented service and design.
  4. Improve security screening procedures to minimize waste of time, grief, and hassle of travellers. 

“A post-Coronavirus Middle East with freedom of movement for international travellers is by far the most effective way to accelerate and boost the recovery of regional tourism industries, and to support the hasty recovery of the respective economies of the participating countries,” Gal concludes.

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