CAIRO, Egypt – Egyptian tourist villages on the Red Sea, Sharm el-Sheikh and elsewhere are anticipating an improved tourism sector in 2014 with support from a government and private sector plan of action, Ministry of Tourism officials said.
“The Egyptian tourism sector, including its public and private sectors, aims to raise the number of tourist visitors to more than 14 million, in an attempt to restore the situation to 2010 levels, when the number of tourists reached 14.8 million,” said Mahmoud Shukri of the Ministry of Tourism’s Chamber of Tourism Promotion.
The prevailing optimism stems from the stability expected after parliamentary and presidential elections take place and the increasing number of countries lifting travel bans to Egypt, he said.
The Ministry of Tourism has put in place a package of measures, including an international public relations campaign, designed to convey what is really happening on the ground as opposed to overblown accounts provided by some media outlets, he said.
“The ministry wants to aggressively promote the tourism sector by attracting 30 million tourists, with revenues estimated at $25 billion by 2022,” Shukri said.
International air charter companies have been offered incentives to include Egypt as a destination, he added, and efforts are also under way to facilitate the issuance of tourist visas.
Expanding foreign markets
The government has launched a new initiative to attract Gulf tourists, and also has provided promotional videos and pictures to German travel agency websites so tourists can see the places they want to visit before booking.
“German tourists are among the largest groups of tourists coming to Egypt, so the ministry sent a delegation to several German cities to attract two million German tourists this year,” Shukri said.
There also are plans to tap new tourist markets in India, Indonesia, Thailand and Brazil and to produce promotional video clips of foreign tourists enjoying their time in Egypt, he said.
Egyptian hotel and resort owners are counting on the government’s efforts to revive the tourism sector, said Mohammed Khair, a Sharm el-Sheikh resort manager. “Projections indicate a return of tourists thanks to the government’s actions.”
Sharm el-Sheikh seeks to attract 3.5 million tourists this year, an increase of about one million tourists over 2013, he said.
The current average occupancy rate stands at 50%, with a target to raise it to at least 70%, Khair added, noting that many hotels and restaurants have re-hired workers they let go last year in anticipation of a recovery.
“So far, signs indicate a rise in the number of tourists,” said Mahmoud Mohammed of the Ministry of Tourism.
“It is necessary for tourism revenues to recover since they are an important source of hard currency, and a recovery will impact economic growth and other sectors, since the tourism sector contributes 11% of gross domestic product (GDP),” he told Al-Shorfa.
“There is a need to focus on innovative ways to attract tourists, such as green tourism, in addition to revitalising diving tourism in coral reef areas, and stimulating religious tourism, especially since Egypt is rich in such places that could attract tourists of all nationalities and denominations,” he said.
Source: eTN Global Travel Industry News