The current period will be a fierce test for Egypt’s tourism sector due to the suspension of all its activities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, tourism development companies have said. The tough times have been further compounded by the government’s suspension of all international flights in and out of the country, as well as flight suspensions worldwide.
The companies said the crisis requires strong marketing solutions that differ from the tools tapped during the Middle East’s security crises of the last 10 years or the 2008 global financial crisis.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic will change the nature of demand for some tourism products, Asser Hamdy, Chairperson of Orientals for Urban Development (OUD), said.
He said that the limited number of people, so far, infected with the coronavirus in Egypt must be marketed well to increase the post-crisis demand, which would make Egypt a safe haven. Hamdy called on companies to prepare for a new type of marketing campaign to promote tourism in Egypt following the coronavirus pandemic.
He added that the coming period may witness a boom in tourist housing sales in Red Sea resorts, but there will be a change in the type of units required, ranging from large villas to small studio apartments.
Egypt’s tourism income increased in the past year to $13.1bn, compared to $11.6bn during the previous year.
According to an official at the General Authority for Tourism Development, the Ministry of Tourism’s investment arm, the estimated numbers of tourist housing units on the Red Sea, South Sinai, and North Coast coasts range from 80,000 to 100,000 units. The official added that demand for purchasing units is active from April to August, in conjunction with the influx of expatriate Egyptians and Arabs to Egypt.
“The demand may be almost suspended now. The purchase rates may not exceed 2% to 4% due to the circumstances surrounding the world,” he said.
Hamdy said that the current period has seen many tourism conferences cancelled, including in Saudi Arabia’s coastal towns of Jeddah and Dammam, and Dubai’s Arab Tourism Forum in Dubai. These conferences are good windows for marketing Egyptian projects and resorts.
In South Sinai, President of the Tourist Investments Association, Tamer Makram, said that tourism housing sales, like other tourism products, have stopped.
Tourism investment requires a new type in Egypt, according to Ahmed Hassan, Chairperson of Marriott Hills for Tourism Investment. He also said that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak will reveal the need to invest in tourist housing units that are compatible with the environment, as well as the need for medical tourism investments.
He adds that Egypt very much needs this type of investment, which is capable of attracting a new type of tourism inflow to Egypt, particularly heavy spenders.
Marriott Hills for Tourism Investment seeks to establish a medical tourism complex that exploits natural resource in Egypt and market them to high-spending segments in Europe and the Arab Gulf.
“Although sales have stopped, many tourism investment companies are completing construction work, hoping that the crisis will end before mid-year,” said Abdel Rahman Anwar, a member of the South Sinai Investors Association.
Anwar says that there are no new projects now, whether hotels or tourist housing and all companies are focused on completing constructions that have already begun.
“There is no demand at all even if prices are lowered,” Anwar noted.
A tourism investor on the north coast says that companies are seeking to find alternative plans to replace the suspended flights to Egypt. The companies are, instead, betting on the domestic market after the end of the school year.
“The sales of the units will decrease significantly by the coming summer season, by between 70% and 75% at least, and the demand will be limited to the Egyptians,” he added.