Israel-Hamas war devastates tourism in Egypt and Jordan

LOS ANGELES — The Israel-Hamas war has had a devastating effect on bookings and cancellations for tours and cruises in neighboring Egypt and Jordan, according to suppliers attending the USTOA Annual Conference and Marketplace. 

Bookings are in steep decline and cancellations have spiked through at least the first quarter of next year. 

“The impact has been pretty severe, quite honestly, for the first quarter of 2024,” said Pamela Hoffee, president of Avalon Waterways, which offers chartered Nile River cruises. “Close to half of our guests canceled for the first quarter of 2024. The rest of the year has not seen as much impact.” 

Customers who cancel lose their $250 deposits, Hoffee said, which is not a steep loss for those who have not made final payments and have purchased the line’s travel insurance, which includes a cancel-for-any-reason policy.

Collette has also experienced mass cancellations for Egypt and Jordan. 

“The cancellation rate is in the 30-40% range for our near-term departures,” said Jeff Roy, executive vice president of revenue management, pricing and worldwide operations for Collette. 

Roy added that the war has negatively impacted travel bookings beyond Egypt and Jordan, slowing down fourth-quarter bookings overall. Roy said there was a noticeable falloff after October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel to spark the war.

“We’re getting a lot of activity on the website, just a lot less conversion right now. So it seems like people are still shopping a lot,” Roy said. 

Attendees at the USTOA Annual Conference and Marketplace in Los Angeles.

Not only has the war affected bookings, it has increased concern about terror attacks, which have historically depressed bookings for months after the incident, not only in the country where it happened but sometimes an entire region.

According to USTOA’s annual survey of active members, terrorism is their third-highest concern; it was at the bottom of the list of concerns last year at this time.

The top two concerns for USTOA members are economic uncertainty and cost of living increases. 

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