Despite facing competition from Europe and the Global South, often deemed the world’s main tourist playgrounds, the Middle East is surging in popularity among travelers right now, with a growing number of them picking the sunny spot for their vacations instead.
Though the likes of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar are often listed as the region’s main tourist destinations, it’s two other countries that are leading booking trends now, having registered a significant increase in visitor numbers.
Why, then, are they so attracting so many foreigners, especially Westerners?
Turkiye And Egypt Are The New Middle Eastern Faves
According to UK-based travel firm On the Beach, specializing in sunny holiday packages, the countries of Turkiye, formerly known as Turkey, and Egypt are the most sought-after among their customers, with more than double the number of bookings they received in 2019.
As the travel experts have highlighted, this is partly attributed to the weakness of the Turkish lira, Turkiye’s national currency, and the Egyptian pound, Egypt’s. In the last five years, the severely depreciated Turkish currency declined in value by more than 80 percent against the dollar.
In 2018, one US dollar equalled 4.5 liras, while today it buys as many as 23 liras, owing it to Turkiye’s unorthodox economic policies.
Similarly, the Egyptian pound is going through a rough patch, ranking among the worst-performing currencies this year.
Though inflation must be taken into account, there’s no denying the decline in strength has boosted not only exports but holiday bookings.
After all, crisis-stricken Westerners, particularly Americans, now strongly favor cheaper destinations where their tourist dollar stretches further.
How Affordable Are Turkiye And Egypt?
Holidaying in Bodrum, one of the leading resort cities in Turkiye, as well as one of the most affordable in 2023, the average hotel price is a fairly reasonable $57 per night, with an even lower median price of only $51, as reported by BudgetYourTrip.
Consumer prices in Bodrum are also significantly lower than other Mediterranean destinations, with meals at mid-range restaurants being up to 60.2% cheaper than in Marbella, Spain, or 56.1% compared to Saint-Tropez’, in France’s hugely expensive Southern coast.
Egypt isn’t too far behind in terms of affordability:
Based on data collected from 121 hotels, the average hotel rate in Sharm el-Sheikh, perhaps the country’s most luxurious resort zone, stands at $84.
Granted, inexpensive dining and budget-friendly hotels are not the only reasons why these Middle Eastern gems are exploding in popularity right now.
What Else Do These Countries Have To Offer?
Turkiye and Egypt may be huge beach destinations boasting sandy beaches lapped by turquoise waters and vibrant city breaks, but their main appeal rests on their accumulated millennia of History and ancient treasures.
Prior to the existence of Turkiye as a country, the Anatolian Peninsula where it is located was home to some of the most important cities of Antiquity, such as Troy, Ephesus, where parts of the Bible were written, and Attaleia, a major trading port.
Attaleia – modern-day Antalya – is still jam-packed with historical landmarks, including Hadrian’s Gate, a 1st-century Roman city gate, and well-preserved city walls. These all coexist alongside a modern seafront resort’s bustling atmosphere, making Antalya a one-of-a-kind destination.
In Istanbul, the remnants of the all-too-powerful Roman Empire complement other late Byzantine and Ottoman-era structures, with city icons such as Hagia Sophia, formerly the largest Christian cathedral in ancient times, now turned into a mosque.
Turkiye is a nation of beautiful, impossible juxtapositions sure to keep History buffs entertained, more so than it is simply a trendy sunny hotspot for beachgoers, though it definitely excels at both categories.
Egypt is no different, and it certainly does not require an introduction, what with its world-renowned pyramids, with origins lost to time, primeval burial tombs and temples, and sprawling metropolises that sit atop long-forgotten civilizations.
The powerful duo is at the front of the Middle East’s tourist offer, and they could be challenging the UAE for the number one spot in the region.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com