One million tourists could flow to Egypt if travel and visa restrictions were lifted for Arabs from the North African countries of Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, chairperson of the Egyptian Travel Agencies Association Khaled El-Manawi said.
Approximately 900,000 tourists fly to Turkey annually. Egyptian tourists constitute 50% of the tourists visiting Turkey. Algerian nationals are granted a visa at the Turkish airport and charter flights are provided, according to El-Manawi.
Last year, tourists from Maghreb countries spent more than $120 per night on average whereas European tourists spent about $62, according to the chairperson.
The Egyptian tourism sector should learn from the current crisis it is experiencing due to its over-reliance on European tourism. The European market used to represent about 72% of the flow to Egypt every year.
Since the crisis of the Russian plane crash at the end of October 2015, Egyptian tourism has been suffering from a decline in inbound tourism. This led revenues to decline to $6.1bn, compared to $7.3bn the previous year.
During 2015, 1.7 million Arab tourists visited Egypt, an increase of 7% compared to 2014.
However, El-Manawi believes these are poor figures. The Moroccan market could send one million tourists to Egypt provided that travel restrictions are lifted. If this happens, inbound tourism would not drop to less than 2.5m tourists annually.
El-Manawi demanded that visas be granted to foreign workers in Saudi Arabia provided that the one-month visa fees are more than SAR 4,000. “We can benefit from the large number of foreign workers who want to visit Egypt which will help to increase tourism income,” he said.
A law, issued in 2012, bans foreign ownership in Sinai, thus preventing the flow of Arab investment to this region, according to El-Manawi.
This law prevents Arab investors from cooperating with Egyptian investors to contribute to the development of their hotels and resorts, especially after a 5-year suspension on replacement and renewal of these assets, according to El-Manawi.