Misr Travel and Egypt Air Tourism (Karnak) & DutyFree have both stopped trips to Taba since the start of Ramadan, according to Sami Sulaiman, head of Taba and Nuweiba Investors’ Association.
He added that Egypt Air Tourism (Karnak) & DutyFree used to send two flights per week to the popular resort.
Each flight to the region carried about 40 passengers over the week, in addition to the bus trips which were operated by Egypt Travel, Sulaiman added.
In April 2015, the Ministry of Tourism launched a tourism programme to encourage Egyptians to visit the region, whether by flight or through the company’s bus fleet, in cooperation with the Nuweiba and Taba Investors Association. The region contains around 70 hotels and resorts, according to Sulaiman, who added that the number of functioning hotels does not exceed seven, with about 10 camps on the beach of Aqaba Bay.
The region has been suffering from a tourism decline since February 2015, as a result of a terrorist bombing that targeted a tourist bus near the Taba border port with Israel.
Sulaiman said he will take part in a planned meeting with the head of the Egyptian Tourist Authority, Samy Mahmoud, to resume the programme during the few remaining days of Ramadan. Sulaiman added that the primary approvals have been given for extending the programme until end of September, which raises hotel and compound occupancies and avoids bankruptcy.
Despite launching the tourist programme, Sulaiman believes occupancies are still very low in Taba and Nuweiba. More than 50 hotels have closed their doors, and he hopes occupancies recover during the next winter season.
The programme price for Egyptians in a 5-star hotel for four nights, including flight tickets, is EGP 1,700, while the price with a bus ticket is EGP 1,130, according to Sulaiman.
The accommodation price in hotels in a 4-star hotel, including flight tickets, for four nights is EGP 1,400, or EGP 830 for travel by bus.
According to Sulaiman, the hotels participating in the programme offer half-board accommodation, adding that these prices are the lowest in comparison to tourism programme prices offered by hotels and resorts in the rest of Egypt.
Sulaiman demands that different ministries, including the Ministries of Tourism, Interior, Defence, Transport, Aviation, Finance and Investment, should cooperate to develop the area, rather than leave one body to work alone.
Governor of South Sinai General Khaled Fouda will hold a meeting this month with members of the Taba-Nuweiba Investors’ Association to discuss the demands of developing the area, Sulaiman said. He added that the association met with the head of Nuweiba city, earlier this week.
The value of the tourism investments in the area varies between EGP 10 and 12bn, according to the head of the association. Sulaiman suggests the Ministry of Tourism offers tourism programmes with discounted prices for workers in the state’s administrative bodies, in the different tourist areas, which contributes to raising the occupancy rates, maintaining the tourism investments, and creating job opportunities.
According to Sulaiman, there are around 6.5 million workers in the government who can be the lifeline for Egyptian tourism.
Egypt’s income gained from tourism amounted to $7.3bn in 2014, compared to $5.9bn in 2013.