Head of the Tourism Development Authority, Hisham El-Demery, said that the Egypt in Our Hearts initiative will not continue during the winter vacation, as many Egyptians tend to travel during that period.
He added that it will be launched again after carefully conducting feasibility studies, as the authority aims to promote domestic tourism and raise awareness in Egyptians about their country to increase their sense of patriotism.
He pointed out that the initiative has been discussed more than once in parliament, but no decision was taken yet.
Alaa Abdel Wahab, adviser to the tourism minister, said that the initiative will not continue during the vacation period as it would be a waste of public funds.
He explained that the aim of supporting domestic tourism is to secure tourist inflow to hotels and tourism facilities to help them continue working, as well as foster a travelling culture among Egyptians.
He added that domestic tourism is the safety valve for tourism in times of crisis, noting it helps increase awareness among Egyptians when they learn about their country.
Tourism inflow to Egypt dropped to 5.3 million visitors in 2016, down from 9.3 million tourists in 2015.
Meanwhile, Khaled El-Manawi, a member of the Egyptian Tourism Development Authority, said that the initiative has rescued the tourism sector in the past.
He explained that 545 tourism companies benefitted from the initiative, which also helped 80,000 Egyptians visit different parts of their country by subsidising EGP 500 for Sharm El-Sheikh visits and EGP 700 for any other destination per person.
He added that the initiative included 88 hotels in Sharm El-Sheikh and 43,000 rooms, in addition to 90 floating and traditional hotels in Luxor and Aswan.
He said that the initiative should continue but not during holidays as Egyptians tend to travel more during these times even if prices are not subsidised.
Istrabus Travel chairperson, Wagih Rezqallah, said that the initiative stirred movement in the sector following a period of staggering recession on the back of the crash of a Russian metrojet aeroplane in Sinai at the end of October 2015.
He added that the initiative should be implemented on major companies, unions, government bodies, and universities.
He stressed that the initiative should only be implemented when no foreigners are in Egypt. “Egyptian culture is different,” he said. “Hotels operating under the initiative should not host foreigners to preserve the Egyptian image abroad.”
Yet, he said that the initiative contributes to all tourist investments, including transport, cafes, restaurants, and hotels.