Why Europe’s tourism industry is catching up to the refugee crisis

Published September 24th, 2015 - 01:06 GMT
Refugees walk along a railway track at the Hungary-Serbia border, near the town of Horgos, on Sept. 14, 2015. (AFP/Elvis Barukcic)
Refugees walk along a railway track at the Hungary-Serbia border, near the town of Horgos, on Sept. 14, 2015. (AFP/Elvis Barukcic)

Europe may not have been so quick to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to offering asylum seekers help. But a new boon in tourism products goes to show there may be some benefit to be seen for the countries after all.

While some nations are still resisting the EU's redistribution plan for refugees, the tourism industry is now providing new apps and guidebooks to help Arab refugees, Vice News reported. And that means there's business potential for the refugee influx.

Guide du Routard, France's "Lonely Planet" equivalent, published an 85-page illustrated guidebook that includes information on refugee services and possible accommodations in the country. 

Here's the cover. There's a digital version of the full guidebook available here

Popular German newspapers have already published pull-out guides in Arabic for refugees that included maps, information about migration services and translations to basic German phrases. Other companies created apps, such as InfoAid — launched by a Hungarian couple, it gives users updated info on refugee routes and is offered in six different languages including Arabic.

Here's a look into the app's messages, courtesy of Vice.

The financial benefits for these companies to provide free services may not be seen right away; Guide du Routard and French travel agency Voyageurs du Monde spent more than $11,000 to finance 5,000 copies of the illustrated book themselves, according to Vice. 

But "humanitarian" projects like these don't just look good for these companies. Nearly half a million refugees have so far arrived in Europe this year, The New York Times reported, causing a significant population change and opportunities for future customers. 

Refugees are future buyers and future employees. By marketing products to a new population, companies are giving themselves a jumpstart to a changing customer base that's likely to stick. 

By Hayat Norimine


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