The head of Egypt’s tourism bureau in Berlin, Mohamed Abdel Gabbar, is optimistic that the rate of German tourists visiting Egypt will return to what it was before the Russian Metrojet plane crashed into Sinai in 2015. Allocating a $2,000 incentive for charter flights and $6,000 incentive for regular flights to Egyptian airports, the Ministry of Tourism has supported his claim. Daily News Egypt sat down with Abdel Gabbar to discuss the return of tourism inflow to Egypt.
How many German tourists do you expect Egypt will receive in the coming year?
I expect the number of German tourists coming to Egypt to reach 700,000 by the end of this year, and that in 2017, we should see the number of tourists return to levels similar to what it was before the Metrojet crash in 2015.
In 2015, we had 1 million German tourists. In 2016, we expect this number to fall by 30%; however, we expect these numbers to go back up in 2017.
What do you base your expectations on?
The expectations are built on the affordable price of Egypt as a tourist destination and promotional marketing campaigns that have been carried out. The Ministry of Tourism has pledged to offer $6,000 for every regular flight to Egypt, which should also help attract tourism.
In order to be eligible for the incentive, airline companies must offer at least 22 flights a week to Egyptian airports, with an occupancy of 80% or higher.
The ministry also plans to offer incentives for chartered flights. To be eligible for a $2,000 incentive for every chartered flight to Egypt, the airline must ensure the flight has an 80% occupancy rate if flying to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, 65% occupancy if flying to Marsa Alam, and 50% occupancy if flying to Luxor, Aswan, Taba, Marsa Matrouh, and Al-Alamein.
I think these incentives are very good for spurring tourism, particularly in these cities where the declinein tourism has had a major impact.
How many flights from Germany will be coming to Egypt in this winter season?
This winter season, there are about 115 weekly flights from Germany to Egypt. Also, starting from 23 December, Fly Egypt will make four weekly flights from Germany to Sharm El-Sheikh International airport. The German government lifted the ban on taking luggage on board to and from Sharm El-Sheikh airport, after safety measures at the airport were deemed adequate.
Germans this year were the largest tourist group to visit Egypt.
You are also the supervisor for Egypt’s tourism bureau in Warsaw, Poland. What can you say about Polish tourism?
The Egyptian company Air Cairo concluded a contract with the Polish company Sky Services to organise flights from Poland to Egypt. The agreement included organising six flights between Poland and Egypt to Hurghada and Marsa Alam. These flights will start on 16 January 2017. Moreover, from 25 April 2017, the number of flights a week will increase to 12 in order to cater to their desire to visit Egypt.
That contract will be a sign of hope in restoring the tourism movement coming from the Polish market, especially given that the number of flights coming from the Polish market currently is eight. With this new contract, that number will jump to 20 by April.
The number of tourists visiting Egypt declined by 48%, with 68.4% decline in the tourism revenues in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in 2015.