Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- The term “domestic tourism” has become well known in Saudi households after severe financial situations ruled out the idea of traveling abroad or even within Saudi Arabia this summer.
The recent losses in the stock market have caused many families to reconsider traveling abroad due to the costs that are involved. Furthermore, the upcoming World Cup tournament that will take place in Germany will drive many families to spend their vacations captivated in front of TV sets all over the kingdom.
Sayyed Badawi, who works in the field of tourism in Cairo, said, “Some Saudi families who I know and with whom I have built strong relationships due to their many visits to the country, had promised to visit Egypt in the summer especially considering the profits that they were enjoying after the boom in the Saudi stock market. I began preparing their trips by looking for appropriate accommodation for the families and preparing an itinerary for their visits.”
Badawi added, “I heard about the crash in the Saudi stock market, but I never imagined that the losses would be so severe. I called my Saudi customer to inform him of the latest developments of their trip however, I was surprised to hear that they would not be able to come to Egypt due to an emergency. After insisting to know the reason behind the cancellation, he told me that he had lost almost 80% of his capital and that this loss would prevent him from visiting Cairo.”
Abdul Aziz Al Qahtani, who would usually travel abroad annually said, “As the increase in the stock market began, a friend of mine advised me to invest in shares in order to gain profit. My friend was persistent and I finally came round to the idea and borrowed some money from a Saudi bank to invest in the stock market. At the end of each week, I found that I had made considerable profits. However, after the crash in the stock market, another colleague informed me that what had happened was simply a stock market correction and that I should not sell my shares following the major loss that I had incurred. I took his advice; however, bigger losses were in store for me that exceeded the amount that I borrowed from the bank in the first place.”
Al Qahtani added, “I am sure that it will not possible for me to travel this year. I owe money and believe that it is my priority now to repay these loans before getting into more serious trouble.”
The case is different for Abu Nasser and his family, whose main concern is football. Abu Nasser says, “I was fortunate as I did not participate in the stock market. However, the 2006 World Cup tournament is something that I will definitely take part in. I am also lucky that my family is keen on sports and enjoys watching football matches. It is for this reason that it was not difficult for me to convince them to stay in Saudi Arabia this summer. I did however promise them that we would enjoy domestic tourism this year and we plan to visit our relatives, give prizes to whoever makes the most accurate predictions of the World Cup matches and to watch the matches in different parts of the house.”