By Abdel Razek Al-Shuwekhi
The Ministry of Civil Aviation is considering launching a weekly flight from Marsa Allam in Southeast Egypt to Cairo in order to raise hotels’ average occupancy rates, according to a ministry official. Negotiations are taking place between the Investors Association of Marsa Alam and the governorate of the Red Sea, as well as the domestic company Express Airlines.
The governor of the Red Sea, Ahmed Abdullah, asked Minister of Civil Aviation Hossam Kamal last week to increase the number of flights to tourist areas in the governorate, according to the ministry official, who added that the price of a ticket will be EGP 750.
Currently, the price of a ticket for a flight between Cairo and Marsa Alam is approximately EGP 2,000 per person, which prevents many families from spending breaks in the region.
According to Chairman of the Tourism Investors Association, Adel Rady, there are approximately 15,000 rooms in operation in Marsa Allam, in addition to 10,000 rooms currently under construction through investments exceeding EGP 10bn.
Hotel and resort occupancy rates in the region range between 40-50% at the moment.
Rady expects occupancies to rise during the coming winter season due to an increase in bookings, especially from the countries of Western Europe and Italy.
Tourism from Italy, according to Rady, comprises approximately 60% of incoming traffic to the region annually.
He explained that domestic travel to the region is very low, demonstrating the need for a direct flight from Cairo to Marsa Allam. This will, along with the start of summer vacation after the end of exams in Egyptian universities, will increase occupancies.
The Federation of Italian Trip Organizers held its annual conference in Marsa Alam last week. It was attended by the leadership of the Ministry of Tourism and Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou.
According to Zaazou, the number of Italian tourists travelling to Egypt fell to 504,000 during 2013, down 29% from 2012.
Egypt’s tourism income fell to EGP 1.3bn during the first quarter of 2014, a decrease of 43% from the same period in 2013.
“A reduction in the price of airline tickets to the region will rescue investments worth more than EGP 20bn, whether it be for hotels in operation or under construction. This will also generate more jobs,” said Chairman of the Tourism Committee for the Businessmen Association Ahmed Balbaa.