Leading hotel and tour operator Travco Group, operating in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry for over 30 years across Egypt and the Middle East, promoted Osama Bushra to Vice Chairman in February.
Bushra, who acted as the group’s Chief Operating Officer, was promoted to expand Travco Group’s activities and build a strategic partnership with the world’s tour operators, according to the group.
Daily News Egypt interviewed Bushra to identify the group’s plans in Egypt and learn his views on the tourism sector in the country.
What is Travco Group’s plan for Egypt?
Travco Group is currently focusing on bringing tourists from West and East Europe, as well as looking forward to attracting new emerging markets, such as Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and China and so on. As for Egypt, we are planning to bring new big tour operators to Egypt.
Which countries does the largest number of tourists come to Egypt through Travco?
Most of the tourists come from Europe, and specifically England.
What is the annual target of Travco?
Last year, we succeeded in attracting more than 700,000 arrivals. In 2015, we plan to increase the figure to 1.2 million tourists. This will happen through our partner companies in West Europe that will increase their flights to Egypt this year.
What other plans do you have?
We are launching a new system that will increase our online presence, and this is a strategy that will help us reach the customer directly (Business to Customer), rather than depending on tour operators. We will increase our usage of social media and mobile applications.
Are you opening new branches in Egypt?
We currently have 30 branches throughout Egypt, and this number covers our scope of work.
What are your plans for the cruise business?
Travco operates Egypt’s largest fleets of Nile cruise ships. However, the cruise business in Egypt is different than Travco Group’s in other countries such as Dubai, where Travco Dubai handles Germany-based travel group TUI cruises overseas, but in Egypt, our Nile cruises are domestic. Currently, we are planning to market the cruises of some international companies to enter the Egyptian market within two years. Generally speaking, Egypt used to have a very strong cruise business before the political turmoil that happened four years ago, and now it is gradually coming back to normal levels, and with this new plan, we are aiming to increase its levels.
What about your hotel investments?
Travco plans to invest in constructing hotels on the Red Sea and North Coast in two years.
The international reduction of oil prices has affected the value of the Russian rouble, which was also said to affect the volume of Russian tourists. How do you plan to overcome this issue?
As I said, we are focusing on bringing tourists from East Europe; however, tourism companies are seeing risk in this area, having concerns over the ability of Russian tourists to pay them. In Egypt, if Cairo and Moscow activated their plan of dropping the US dollar to depend on their national currencies in trade. This might help rebound the value of rouble, and thus Russian tourists.
Are you going to participate in the Economic Summit? What do you expect from it?
Travco is going to participate in the summit, and we have hopes that this summit will have positive results on Egypt’s economy.
How do you see Egypt’s tourism promotion plans?
Egypt needs to directly communicate with clients abroad, and there should be an adequate budget for that. The country also should create the demand to visit Egypt. I’ll take Dubai as an example; they started by having an annual shopping festival, then this was followed by real estate, food and events in several sectors. They even focused on TV entertainment competitions. All these annual events created a new type of tourists who come for a very specific reason. Egypt should tackle the same approach and fill its calendar with annual events so that a new type of tourists can come.
How can Egypt raise the average spending of tourists?
Hotel prices in Egypt are low due to the low quality of offered service. That’s why travel companies can’t raise their prices. Each hotel should take into consideration the quality of the service they offer in order to maintain competitiveness.
From your viewpoint, what are the challenges and opportunities facing Egypt’s tourism sector?
The main challenge facing the tourism sector is the safety issue. Opportunities in the sector can be created if the government cooperates with companies to promote for tourism, and also if the companies unified their prices in a fairly competitive market.