Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- With thousands of Saudis getting their fingers burnt in the recent stock market crash, summer holidays abroad will remain a dream for many.
This summer will be different for Sarah al Fayez; she has been forced to postpone her yearly trip to Egypt because of financial constraints. As a result of huge losses accrued as share price tumbled, Sarah and sister spent the summer in Riyadh .
“All our money is invested in the stock market,” she said in a voiced tinged with sadness.
With many Saudis losing vast sums of money in the crash, the travel industry in the kingdom has felt the pinch. According to Dekhail al Tayar, a customer services agent at a travel agency in the capital, booking have fallen by 40% this year, compared to the same period in 2005.
Europe remains the number destination for Saudis, followed by Arab countries and then other countries in the Persian Gulf. Al Tayar predicted more Saudis would visit the US in 2006, because travel visas are now easier to obtain. Less people would be travelling by sea, after a string of accidents, but the number of flights was still less than the average, the agent added.
Businessmen with a diverse portfolio of investments and salaried individuals were less likely to be affected by the stock market’s downturn. The wife of a businessman told Asharq al Awsat her family would be visiting Europe this summer, as planned. An employee at travel agency specializing in family holidays also indicated that only a small number of booking had been cancelled.