Silver lining for Egypt’s tourism this winter

As the winter begins, the tourism sector in Egypt flourished slightly in some cities, including Hurgada, Sharm El-Sheikh, Luxor, Alexandria and Siwa Oasis. Tourism experts forecast a promising season compared to last winter, which saw very low tourist influx.

Ammary Abdel Azim, head of Tourism Companies Division at the Chamber of Commerce, told Egypt Independent that the two-day Global Summit on Luxor Tourism that was organized by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) last week, raised the hotel occupancy rates in Luxor to 90 percent. The UNWTO has named Luxor as the 2016 World Tourism Capital.

During the summit, the chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), David Scowsill, praised the security measures applied at Egyptian airports in the past year, saying that tourism will return to pre-2011 levels by early 2017.

In February 2016, the official indices showed that the occupancy rates in Luxor hotels rose to 64 percent, which comes in conjunction with the mid-school year vacation.

Abdel Azim said that foreign tourists love to visit Egypt in winter, to enjoy the warm weather in its sun-kissed cities, including Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurgada.

“There are good beginnings of a recuperative tourism season, especially after the intense promotional campaigns that were launched by the government to revive tourism,” Abdel Azim said. “I expect a 5 to10 percent increase in tourism flow this winter”.

On behalf of the Egyptian government, the marketting firm J. Walter Thompson (JWT) launched a three-month tourism marketing campaign in September 2016, costing the Egyptian government more than US$20 million. The campaign targets 12 European nations and is part of an agreement reached with the Egyptian Tourism Authority last year.
Along with a series of airline related incidents and the suspension of flights from several nations, Abdel Azim pointed out that foreign tourists were terrified of visiting Egypt due to the TV news they watch showing the violent terrorist attacks that intermittently take place in the country, but the government promotional campaigns succeeded to a great extent in reassuring them to come back.
Talking about Hurgada, he said that there is an increase in the tourists flow in the city and he is expecting it to increase during Christmas celebrations. 

The Ministry of Tourism reported in a press statement that Hurgada recently received 48 flights with nearly 8,000 tourists from different nationalities, mostly from Germany, Britain, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Ukraine. The statement read that the flights to Hurgada saw a 30 percent increase.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Mustafa, the director of the Tourism Promotion office in the Red Sea governorate told Al-Wattan Newspaper that the hotel occupancy rates in Hurghada has reached 31 percent but the signs of a strong tourist season have not loomed yet.

The head of Alexandria port Authority (APA) Bahary Medhat Attia said that the port witnessed noticeable flow, as it has received over 5,000 tourists over the last weeks.

“The APA organized a good program for the tourist groups including a tour to the archeological and cultural tourist sites in the city, along with a visit to the shopping markets,” he added.

Echoing on Attia, the head of Alexandria tour guides Eslam Assem told Al-Wattan Newspaper that the return of the cruise tourism at the Egyptian ports will be very profitable. “When the cruises land at the ports along with some organized programs for tourists, the country will receive at least US$1 million,” he said.

While Siwa oasis witnessed remarkable increases in occupancy rates that reached 100 percent due to the Second Annual International Date Festival; the Director General of Tourism and Resorts in Marsa Matrouh governorate Sabah Tawfiq said that the strong promotional campaigns for the festival, along with the support of the Marsa Matrouh governor helped raise the tourism flow to Siwa.

Abdel Azim said that tourism at Egypt's oases was hit hard after the accident of the Mexican tourists who were mistakenly killed by the Egyptian army in September 2015; shortly after the accident, the tourism police announced the suspension of all tours in the oases for security reasons.

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