Tourism in Egypt, which has received severe blows in the past few years because of terrorist attacks inside the country and regional political turbulences, is expected to get back on its feet this year and is expected to receive more than 7 million tourists a year, a top official in Egyptian tourism sector said.
Hisham Al Demery, Chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board, said that tourism has been hit not only in Egypt but across the several regional countries due to the Arab Spring, which erupted first in 2011 in Tunisia and spread to many countries, including Egypt.
That period of political instability was accompanied by several terrorist attacks that badly hit tourism in a region that greatly depends on tourism for income.
“Thanks God, we have done very good efforts in 2016. We started dealing with the crisis and the tourism folder with a more organised manner. Our main focus was to improve the image people abroad have about Egypt in their minds,” Demery said.
On the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market Demery said the results of the fourth quarter of 2016 were very promising.
“The average number of tourists we receive in Egypt ranges between 7 and 10 million tourists a year. The highest record we had was in 2010, when we hit 14.3 million tourists. God willing, we will record this year a number of tourists ranging between 8 and 10 million people”.
The percentage of direct and indirect share of tourism in Egypt’s Gross National Product (GNP) is estimated at 12 per cent, Demery said. Tourism is considered a vital economic sources for Egypt.
Commenting on the efforts to improve the image of Egypt for tourism, Demery explained that Egyptian government has launched in 2015 a 3-year campaign with the total value of $66 million — at the rate of $22 million a year — to promote Egypt across the world.
Egypt efforts comprised of two elements, a public-relations campaign, which includes inviting celebrities and media people to Egypt to spread “positive news abroad” on behalf of Egyptian tourism authority and the advertising campaign itself.
In 2016, nearly 5.3 million tourists visited Egypt. Two million of them were from Arab countries and most of the rest were from other parts of the world, namely UK, Germany, Italy and Russia.
While the European market is the most important in terms of size, the Arab market is the most important to Egyptian tourism for many reasons, including the similarities in culture, norms, family bonds and many similarities.
“Arab visit Egypt around the year” Demery said. The duration of stay for Arab tourists are by far longer than other tourists from other countries. Also, the Arab tourists are among the top spenders in Egypt.
“once again, we don’t deal with Arab tourists as customers, but rather as people in their second home,” said Demery, explaining that Egyptian authorities are taking several steps to facilitate the visa arrangements for tourists from GCC and other promising markets, including India.
Egypt, the tourism official explained, enjoys several unique aspects ranging from serene beaches to unmatchable pharaonic antiquities, “however, we can’t downgrade others’ abilities”.
Yet, “a tourist experience in Egypt is a very unique and can’t be found in anywhere in the world,” concluded Demery.