Egypt aims to double tourism economy in five years

Published July 29th, 2015 - 08:46 GMT
The country would raise tourism revenues to $26 billion with double the visitors. (AFP/File)
The country would raise tourism revenues to $26 billion with double the visitors. (AFP/File)

The Egyptian Tourism Authority (ETA) said it was aiming to more than double the current numbers of visitors to Egypt and raise revenues by opening its new office in Abu Dhabi, and targeting expatriates in the country.

The Authority said it aims to attract 20 million visitors to Egypt by 2020, and drive tourism revenues to $26 billion (Dh95.47 billion).

Around 35 percent of the guest targets for 2020 are expected to come from Arab countries, particularly the GCC, the ETA said. In order to reach the target, the Authority will be looking at 26 new source markets by the end of this year.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Sami Mahmoud, chairman of the ETA and Egypt’s deputy minister of tourism, said that Egypt will be focusing on Nile tourism by promoting cruise journeys. It will also be promoting cultural tourism, and new destinations other than Cairo and Alexandria.

The abu Dhabi office, which commenced operations at the beginning of July, is ETA’s only office in Arab countries, and will manage operations across the Middle East.

Also speaking at the event was Ahmad Ali, head of ETA’s office in Abu Dhabi, who said, “We are striving to explore new horizons in our tourism partnerships with Arab nations, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Sultanate of Oman, and Lebanon in particular.”

Egypt’s top guest markets are Russia, the UK, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, and Poland, as Westerners account for 75 percent of total visitors to the country. Meanwhile, Arabs account for 17 percent of total visitation.

However, ETA said that Arab guests stay almost twice as long, and record higher average spending of roughly $120-$150 per day (Westerners spend an average of $70-$75 per day in Egypt).

Asked about concerns regarding political stability, Mahmoud said he was not worried as all tourist attractions are secured by police forces.

The opening in the capital comes after ETA closed its office in Istanbul. The Authority said there was no political agenda, however, behind closing the Turkish office.

“Egypt’s relations with Turkey are definitely going through a rough patch because of Turkey’s undisclosed plans and visions for Egypt, but this is not why we closed our office in Istanbul. We’ve reviewed our plans for the region to focus on large potential source markets that include the GCC,” Mahmoud said.

During the first half of this year, over five million tourists visited Egypt — 820,000 of whom came from Arab countries. The figure for total arrivals marks a 20 percent increase in tourism to Egypt compared to the first half of 2014.

Hotels in coastal cities by the Red Sea such as Sharm Al Shaikh, Hurghada, Ein Al Sokhna, and Ras Sedr also reported 100 percent occupancy levels during this year’s Eid Al Fitr holiday. Visitors during that period came primarily from Arab countries.

Mahmoud said that Egypt’s minister of tourism is currently in discussions with various UAE-based airlines about launching new routes to cities by the Red Sea and cities in southern Egypt.

In 2014, 9.9 million people visited Egypt generating $7.7 billion worth of revenues.

Tourism is one of Egypt’s key industries, and accounts for 11.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Around four million Egyptians work in the sector.

By Sarah Diaa

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