Despite concerns over the war in neighbouring Israel-Gaza, Egypt’s tourism and antiquities minister believes the middle eastern country is just scratching the surface of its tourism potential. Ahmed Issa that his country is poised to reach 15 million visitors this year, having already posted record numbers in the first half of the year.
Issa said the country’s 2023 bookings were 32% above 2022 and were above 2019.
At the same time, the boom is “a fraction of what we see is the demand for Egyptian product,” he told travel partners at the recent World Travel Market in London, adding that and that this future demand means the country’s tourism industry has “to up its game.”
The government under President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s administration, he added, has worked to boost the sector to ensure it remains competitive with other global tourist destinations and that his ministry is striving to improve and elevate the quality of tourism services offered to visitors to reach their lofty targets.
That means creating a better regulatory environment for businesses, including airlines, to work (and grow) in; improving security and hygiene; updating airports; and giving incentives to hotels to expand.
“Today it is very difficult to get a room in Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan,” he noted. “The number of Nile cruise rooms is up 40% over 15 months and still there are none available.”
As such he said the government will provide subsidized interest payments and tax incentives to developers with the goal of adding 25,000 rooms by the end of 2025 and 400,000 within five years.
There will also be greener transport taking tourists to the Pyramids in Cairo, while there are plans for high-speed rail lines linking the Red Sea resorts and Alexandria with the capital, along with other infrastructure improvements, he said.
Egypt has already spent billions of pounds restoring archaeological sites and opening new museums – among them the Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria, which has finally reopened after an 18-year renovation.
Across the board, the government is further freeing the reigns of the private sector to improve the tourism experience in the country, such as new attractions at the pyramids, environmentally friendly hop-on-and-off buses, and additional visitor centres.
Tourism and antiquities minister Ahmad IssaGrand Cairo project
At the heart of the Egypt’s cultural renaissance is promoting Cairo as a cultural destination. The plan is to have three museums in Cairo presenting the treasures of ancient Egypt: the old Cairo Museum in Tahrir Square will remain open; the Royal Mummies can be seen at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization; and the new Grand Egyptian Museum will showcase a new collection.
The GEM promises to be a jewel amongst Cairo’s attractions. Built close to the Giza pyramids, when finished it will be one of the largest museums in the world and will house the entire Tutankhamun collection together for the first time and will have galleries the length of three football field and that could cope with 20,000 visitors a day.
The long-awaited museum will be fully open by next May at the latest. A soft opening of some parts would happen “probably later this year, maybe January,” said Issa, with 200 items a day currently being installed. The official opening would be “between February and May” he said.
Entry costs to the museum will be around $30, but by comparison the Issa noted, “The London Eye is £48 ($82)!”
The minister warned of price rises across all the country’s attractions, but maintained, “In real terms the price of attractions in Egypt are below 2010. I am committed to getting prices back, adjusted for inflation, to 2010 levels. There is probably going to be another cycle of price increases in the next 12 months. We are committed to improving quality of services and we are going to charge for that.”
Further, in an effort to boost tourism, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities recently announced that it will be issuing a multiple-entry visa for a period of five years, with a EGP21,000) fee citizens of 180 countries.
As for the war, the CEO of the Egyptian Tourist Authority Amr El Kady maintained that the country is largely unaffected by Israel incursion into Gaza, following the attack by Hamas.
Acknowledging that visitors want to make sure the destination they are travelling to is safe, he said, “I’m here to confirm to you that Egypt is absolutely 100% safe.”
He added that despite war, October’s arrivals numbers were higher than last year and that the launch of new air services into Egypt during the month was “a very positive sign that business is going as usual here and people are feeling safe and enjoying their life.”
Minister Issa admitted bookings had been hit since the situation in Gaza began, but added, “After Oct. 7 we saw people delay their booking decision for maybe a couple of weeks, but we’ve seen a return to normal booking patterns. We’ve seen a decline in the non-beach product but that’s only 6% of our total tourism.”
He added the ministry has doubled its budgets for airline incentives and fam trips for the travel trade, adding, “I don’t want to see an A330 reduced to an A320, we are here to support you. Maybe you will have lower load factors, but I am sure come mid-December the flights will be full again.”
In the long term, Issa says his ministry is preparing 30 to 40 million visitors a year to Egypt. And, he emphasized, “We’re planning for that now.”
First published at Travel Industry Today
First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News