Germans are well-known across the world for their enthusiasm for travelling. Consequently, in the past, Germany has regularly maintained a top rank in international statistics on the “travel champions” among nations. Egypt traditionally represents one of the favourite travel destinations for German tourists, and many remain faithful to Egypt after their first visit here.
The reasons for this popularity are obvious: Egypt is a varied country, offering everything from unique cultural heritage sites, to vibrant cities, diverse landscapes, and beaches – and not to forget, of course, the cordiality and hospitality of its people.
Having spent years working in different places all over the world, I can say that I have hardly ever seen a country where history, culture, and nature meet the way they do in Egypt. It is, therefore, not surprising that Egypt ranks among many Germans’ dream destinations.
This year, however, things have turned out different from anything we could have foreseen, as unexpectedly, the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has forced each and every one of us to implement measures that deeply affect our day-to-day life.
Things we had taken for granted, suddenly needed to be reassessed – with travelling being one of them. Until March of this year, I myself could not have imagined that our globalised and interconnected world could ever witness a scenario where international travel and traffic would be suspended almost entirely.
Yet, thousands of travellers all over the world suddenly found themselves confronted with flight cancellations, often leaving them without ways to return home to their families. Here in Egypt, the pandemic put an abrupt end to the vacation of some 35,000 German tourists. Fortunately, with the quick support of our Egyptian partners, we were able to help all of them return safely.
At the same time, Germany and many of its EU partner countries were harshly hit by the pandemic, and the social and economic consequences will loom large for some time to come. All of this has been a great shock that still needs to be overcome, especially since the situation continues to be tense.
There are still clusters of infections flaring up, and people remain concerned about their jobs and incomes. Understandably enough, many Germans have cancelled their summer holidays or prefer to visit domestic travel destinations. However, once the worldwide situation stabilises, the desire to travel further abroad may be even greater.
Since the beginning of the crisis, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has offered virtual tours to give people some travel inspiration, and I am convinced that, in the long run, the current situation will not curb Egypt’s popularity among tourists whatsoever. Egypt as a tourist destination is one of a kind; it knows how to showcase its thousands of years of history, while looking for innovative ways at the same time.
One example, in this regard, is the Branding Egypt Center at the German University in Cairo (GUC). Here, students and academics are creating state-of-the-art designs for key tourist destinations, such as Luxor or Sharm El-Sheikh, to make them even more attractive to visitors.
Thus, Egypt combines history, present and future, and its diversity and its cultural wealth have been highly appreciated by German tourists for many years.
This is also reflected by the great economic power behind the tourism statistics: with large numbers of German visitors last year, huge investments and thousands of jobs within the Egyptian tourism sector as well as with regard to German travel agencies and airlines, tourism is a key interest for both, Germany and Egypt. It, therefore, goes without saying, that we wish for the worldwide situation to quickly stabilise and allow for a return to normal.
I have no doubt that, as soon as matters calm down on a global level, Egypt will see a happy return of German tourists and make sure they can spend safe and unforgettable holidays in this beautiful country.
Dr. Cyrill Jean Nunn: The German Ambassador to Egypt