Tourism sector witnessing an unlikely boom

JEDDAH: Despite reports that many tourist places have been affected by the floods and led to low numbers of people coming to Jeddah during the mid-year school break, businesses are claiming that the number of visitors have exceeded their expectations and last year’s figures.“The numbers of visitors have increased by 30 percent this break compared to last season. Probably it is because less people are going to Egypt,” said Majid Al-Juaid, general manager of the Mall of Arabia on Madinah Road.Al-Juaid justified the increase in visitors by adding that people have nothing else to do during the holidays except go to malls.Mohammad Abdulraheem, an official at Al-Roshana Mall on Tahliya Street, said that though they had few people turning up to shop following the floods, they are now receiving more costumers from Jeddah and neighboring cities.Furnished apartments were not available to visitors to Jeddah, as they were accommodating flood victims forced to leave their homes following the rains.Ahmad Al-Sayid, an administrator at Ya Halla Furnished Apartments on Hera Street, said that they have been receiving a large number of visitors but were not able to provide any accommodation for them.“We already have over 40 families and have no room for visitors, especially as we don’t know when these families are to leave.”Car rental businesses in Jeddah were also unable to provide cars for visitors as they were already in high demand from flood victims who had lost their vehicles in the rain.“We are facing a real challenge, because all those who lost their cars in the flood or having them repaired have rented cars from us, and we cannot help those coming from outside Jeddah,” said Mohammad Rajab, who works for a car rental company.Companies providing chalets and theme parks, however, have not been able to take advantage of this unexpected boom.A source at the local Tourism Commission said that they had to cancel all festivals scheduled for this break, adding that the floods have affected the season.A statement from the tourism committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry reported that there was a 50 percent decrease in visitors who go to tourism areas near the Red Sea.The report added that the floods have affected tourism establishments in Jeddah – Arabnews