The Arab Spring has resulted in a sharp drop in tourism in countries at the centre of the turmoil, to the benefit of safe destinations in the region, experts say.

Major tourist destinations such as Tunisia and Egypt saw the numbers of visitors plummet because of uprisings last year that spread to other nations where confrontations with autocratic regimes turned deadly.

Gulf city state Dubai, as well as popular destinations outside the Middle East, became the focus of diverted tourism.

According to the World Tourism Organisation UNW-TO, international tourist arri-vals in the Middle East de-clined 8.4 per cent to 54.8 million in 2011, after growing 14.9 per cent the year before.

UNWTO statistics also showed that tourist inflows to North Africa slipped 9.9 per cent to 16.9 million after increasing by 6.5 per cent in 2010.

On the other hand, Turkey received 1.4 million Arab tourists in the first eight months of 2011: up from 1.2 million in 2010.

And Dubai last year posted a 10 per cent rise in guests at hotels and hotel apartments, reaching 9.09 million, with revenues hitting 15.97 billion dirhams (€3.359 billion), 20 per cent up from 2010.

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