Hotelier highlights incentives potential

Bertolini ... active player.

Cairo is expected to become the cornerstone of the Middle East's burgeoning corporate incentive tourism market, according to a leading hotelier.

"The incentive market is potentially huge for Cairo," said Valention Bertolini, general manager Sheraton Helipolis Hotel and Towers in Cairo.

"It is well on its way, but the scope is endless. Cairo has the security, the organisational acumen and a general credibility in simply getting it right for the business traveler."

Cairo received 4.5 million visitors last year. Arrival numbers increase seven per cent per year. More than 500 local and international conferences are held in Cairo annually. At least 200 of those are for Middle East conventions, conferences or seminars.

"These days incentive tourism is one of the major forms of tourism all over the world. Facilities should be boosted and services enhanced to cater for this segment of the market," he said.

"It is a very sound and lucrative area. Tourism authorities all over the world are competing to encourage tour operators and travel agents to bring incentive groups to their respective destinations.

"Sheraton Heliopolis Hotel and Towers is certainly an active player in the incentive tourism area. We have to be. Egypt has so much to offer, it is a unique destination."

Such is the belief in the incentive and general conference market that the 588-room Sheraton Heliopolis is adding more rooms as well as a meetings-convention hall of 2,000 sq m.

The revamped complex will boast an extra 300-room free-standing hotel as well as an international conference centre capable of seating 2,000 people and grand spa facilities.