Egypt prepares for tourism influx


The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), the largest and most significant cultural project in process globally, is going to be partially opened in the first quarter of 2019, with the first phase completed by the end of 2018.

The Grand Egyptian Museum will witness for the first time the display of all Tutankhamun’s artefacts gathered in one place. GEM’s lobby will host the statue of King Ramesses II and the column of his son King Merneptah, the grand staircase will include 87 royal statues and large architectural elements including a statue of Kings Khafre, Menkaure, Senusret, Akhenaten and Amenhotep III.

Last month, Egypt’s tourism minister Dr Rania Al Mashat, said, “Egypt is the world’s capital of cultural tourism. [Visitors] will witness chapters of civilisation unfold with 50,000 pieces of unique artefacts, housed in a modern architectural building that will utilise state of the art technology to educate in an engaging way. The location of the GEM with the stunning Great Pyramid of Giza as a backdrop, will be a sight to behold for visitors and hugely uplifting and inspirational for all, whatever their age and wherever they’re from.”

To complement the GEM, the Giza plateau is undergoing a renovation project to include boutique hotels, restaurants and cinemas. “Interactive technology will be used to communicate antiquities in an engaging and enjoyable way that we have not done before. This will have a profound and positive impact on tourism in our country,” promised the country’s first lady tourism minister, who has been in office since this January.

“Younger generations and millennials who seek state-of-the-art interactivity to gain an authentic experience of an ancient world. They represent the fastest-growing demographic of travellers around the world, a community that we must, and will, look to attract.”

Arab tourism represents around 30 per cent of total tourists to Egypt with the lion share being from the GCC, and the future outlook is positive according to the minister, with the first quarter this year witnessing a steep increase in tourist numbers.

In 2010, 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt. In the first quarter of 2018, the inflow was 2.38 million, which represents an increase of 37 per cent compared to last year. The revenues of the Egyptian tourism industry increased by 83 per cent in this period to $2.2 billion, according to official data.

Some eight million visitors set foot in Egypt last year. The first quarter of 2018 was quite positive for the country and that positive performance is forecast to continue for the remainder of 2018. Travel and tourism contributed $19.4 billion to Egypt’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017 – about 9 per cent of total GDP – according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

Egypt has recorded the second highest number of major hotels in Africa, following South Africa, according to a report from global real estate consultancy Knight Frank. Egypt has 300 chain hotels and resorts across major cities, including Sharm El Sheikh
and Hurghada.

Fairmont Citystars Sharm El Sheikh is slated to open in 2018, and several Marriott- and Hilton-branded properties opening in development across Egypt. Rotana has signed on an agreement for a new 200-room, five-star hotel in New Cairo City. This is Rotana’s second outpost in the country and will bring the company’s total inventory in the country to 726 keys.

In 2017, Egypt's hotels reported a 55-per cent occupancy rate with ADR reaching $66, despite dropping tourist numbers following the Russian plane crash in October 2015 and the 2011 revolution. However, according to WTTC, Egypt in 2017 was the world’s number one nation for growth in direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP (+72.9 per cent), leisure travel spending (+80.4 per cent) and employment (+33.5 per cent).