Egypt signed a deal, on Tuesday, with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to benefit from the latter’s Tourism Recovery Technical Assistance Cooperation Package.
The package aims to help the country’s tourism sector overcome the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Egypt’s Ministers of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat, and Tourism and Antiquities Khaled Al-Anany, signed the package on Egypt’s behalf, along with Heike Harmgart, the EBRD’s Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean.
The package looks to build the resilience of tourism enterprises against the COVID-19 pandemic, as the private sector represents 98% of Egypt’s tourism sector. As a key cornerstone, it will also incentivise job creation, as it seeks to identify support mechanisms for tourism enterprises, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to support the local economy.
It also aims to formulate specific recommendations to foster job creation, targeting the self-employed and protecting the most vulnerable groups.
The package will also aim to improve Egypt’s tourism safety, health and hygiene regulations to align with international practices, providing tailor-made training programmes that are applicable to the local context for managerial level in the tourism industry as well as newly hired fresh graduates.
In November 2018, Egypt launched the Egypt Tourism Reform Program (E—TRP), a structural reform programme designed to achieve a sustainable tourism sector. It aimed to implement reforms that strengthen the sector’s competitiveness, consistent with international standards.
In March 2019, the UNWTO awarded Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for his commitment towards tourism through launching the E—TRP, and his contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“The new agreement with the EBRD and UNWTO is an example of deepening collaborations to advance sectoral support and accelerate progress to meet Egypt’s priorities going forward,” Minister Al-Mashat said, “Through providing impact analysis and data collection tools, it will allow private enterprises to make informed decisions on the basis of number-driven data and make predictions to avoid future shocks.”
She added that this will, in turn, foster the spirit of entrepreneurship in the tourism sector, and lead to a better inclusion of women and youth in the workforce.
“The pandemic has given us an opportunity to not just ensure an immediate recovery but to build back better for a more sustainable tourism industry,” the minister added.
For his part, Al-Anany expressed his gratitude to the Ministry of International Cooperation, the EBRD, the UNWTO, and colleagues at his Ministry for their efforts to reach the signing of this agreement.
“The Tourism Recovery Technical Assistance Cooperation Package comes at a crucial timing, as it supports the Ministry and its affiliated entities as well as the private tourism sector to embark on the ongoing transformation,” he said, adding, “This is particularly on capacity building, and supporting the ministry to ensure the recovery of the industry.”
Harmgart said, “The EBRD is proud to support the tourism sector of Egypt with this COVID-19 tourism recovery package, to help this important sector to build back better with the expertise of the UNWTO.”
In December 2020, the Ministry of International Cooperation, together with the EBRD, agreed on a financing agreement for the regeneration of a brownfield site in West Cairo.
The site, which serves the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) and the Giza Pyramids, will be developed into a Hyatt Regency Hotel, promoting the introduction of green technology, and youth and women inclusion in Egypt.
It is expected that more than 300 jobs will be directly generated, and viable progression routes from training into employment will be created for at least 250 Egyptian youth.
The project will also include a high-quality training programme, funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). It will include work-based learning opportunities in hospitality and tourism for young people, promoting in particular women’s participation.
Egypt is a founding member of the EBRD. Since the start of the Bank’s operations in Egypt in 2012, the EBRD has invested over €7bn in more than 125 projects in the country.