Among this year’s key objectives for Egypt at the Arabian Travel Market is meeting with investors, the new chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Authority (ETA), Amr Elezabi, told TTN.
Speaking on the phone from Cairo, he said the ETA would seek to renew contacts with the travel trade and the media, while the Egyptian Tourism Development Authority would be meeting with investors.
The UAE – alongside Saudi Arabia – is considered one of the most important investors in Egypt, with projects such as Emaar’s $1.7 billion Marassi development and the $4 billion Cairo Heights.
“Tourism is now the first source of foreign exchange for Egypt, and contributes nearly 11 per cent of GDP, directly and indirectly, providing 200,000 jobs for every one million tourists. It is the best source of employment,” Elezabi said, adding that the industry benefits big cities and remote regions alike.
The country hopes to attract 14 million tourists by 2011, and increase its hotel capacity from 175,000 rooms to 240,000 rooms.
In terms of source markets, Elezabi said that while the UK tops the table, Russia has emerged in second place. “Last year we had almost one million Russians visiting Egypt, and we estimate that number will increase substantially this year – the Russians might even take first place!” At the same time, to reach out to Eastern Europe, he said, the ETA has opened an office in Poland. Tourist numbers from both Poland and the Czech Republic were up almost 30 per cent last year.
Other emerging new markets are Korea, India and China. Both Canada and the US have also seen a double digit increase in tourist numbers.
“As for the region, following Egypt’s tremendous popularity in the 1980s, the Arab market is now coming back. Almost 28 per cent of tourist overnights were realised by visitors from the Arab market,” he said. Arabs have been traditionally motivated to visit big Egyptian cities, such as Cairo and Alexandria. “But for the last two years we have been seeing charters to resorts like Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada and this looks trend like set to continue. We will modify our marketing campaign for Arab markets accordingly.”
The focus is to present Egypt as a destination with a diversified product offering, he added, with new emphasis on city breaks, eco-tourism, golf and water sports, and medical and wellness tourism, besides such already established products as culture and beach tourism.