Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani has revealed that the country’s tourism sector recovered about 60% of its dues from overseas travel agents and tour operators.
The step came after efforts made by the Tourism Ministry in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Al-Anani told Daily News Egypt that his ministry is communicating with foreign tour operators, despite the conditions affecting the global travel and tourism sector worldwide due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This collaboration is focused on preparing for the post-pandemic period, as the rollout of vaccines against the coronavirus start.
“Our contacts with foreign partners and major international companies do not stop, and we have a close relationship with those agencies,” he said, “The Egyptian tourism sector may get sick, but it will never die, and [we] can restore its flows.”
Kamel Abu Ali, head of the Tourism Investors Association in the Red Sea, told Daily News Egypt that the Egyptian tourism sector has had a strong and close relationship with foreign companies for more than 30 years.
Abu Ali added, “Many companies have paid large parts of the Egyptian companies’ dues, despite the difficult conditions, and most of these companies are serious institutions and have a reputation that they protect.”
Al-Anani said 3.5 million tourists visited Egypt in 2020, garnering revenues of about $4bn for the country, compared to 11.6 million tourists and revenues of $13.03bn during 2019.
“In light of the current global conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic, tourist arrivals are not the goal,” the minister said, “Rather it is preserving the reputation of the Egyptian tourist destination, and ensuring tourist safety.”
Al-Anani added that tourism growth rates in numbers and revenues in January and February 2020 reached about 8%. This means that the year would have seen high growth rates compared to the previous year. These were, however, affected by the pandemic and the implementation of precautionary measures which led to a decline in numbers and revenues.
Egypt resumed inbound and outbound international tourist flights to three governorates, including the Red Sea, South Sinai and Matrouh, last July. The government put in place operational rules to ensure that occupancy rates do not exceed 50% of each tourism facility’s capacity.
“I expect a growth in tourist flows to Egypt from next March and April,” Abu Ali said, “Our contacts with foreign tourism agents make us more optimistic about the improvement of the situation.”
The number of hotels that obtained work permits under the new regulations currently stands at about 700 hotels out of a total of 1,200 hotels.