Egypt has a great opportunity in tourism, according to Mohamed Kaoud, President of Tourism and Aviation Committee at the Egyptian Junior Business Association (EJB).
This is due to countries around the world being more cautious about reopening, meaning that tourists had few options for places to travel to.
“The Maldives took advantage of the fact that they were in relatively good shape with the virus, and its heavy reliance on ultra-luxury resorts also worked in its favour so the country surpassed their arrival forecast,” Kaoud said, “They promoted the destination as a safe haven for tourists.”
He added that tourists are travelling less frequently, but for longer and with more purpose.
The fact that most people were going digital-only for work and school meant that resorts devised a special package for guests staying a full month. This offered meals, high-speed internet, wellness activities, and use of a kids’ club, and has been priced from $42,600 for a family of four.
Others are selling “all you can stay” packages for unlimited bookings for up to a year at a cost of $30,000. Another luxurious property promoted a “workation” package, priced from $23,250 for seven days.
The tourism sector is one of an economy’s main pillars, making revenues of $4bn in 2020, compared to $13.03bn in 2019. The country received about 3.5 million tourists last year, compared to 13 million in 2019.
Both short-term and medium-term challenges remain on recovery to the pre-pandemic growth levels, especially with the delay in deploying vaccination programmes both on the local level and internationally.
This will affect the investment and tourism inflows to the country, as well as negatively affect local economic activities. Foreign direct investment (FDI) net inflows in fiscal year (FY) 2019/20 amounted to $7.5bn, maintaining Egypt’s ranking as the largest FDI recipient in Africa over the last three years.
Kaoud said that the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has outlined three scenarios that it is expecting for the travel and tourism industry to bounce back. It predicts that this sector could bounce back either by mid-2023, by the end of 2023, and/or by the end of 2024.
Hence, counties started adopting strategies that meet challenges to overcome those difficult times.
“Meanwhile, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities expects pre-pandemic levels by Autumn 2022, which is close to the UNWTO’s first scenario,” Kaoud said, “However, that would be very challenging as we are yet behind other counties in the region and globally that acted faster and more efficiently than Egypt.”
He added that there were very few counties that actually managed to handle the situation and drive business to their countries.
The UAE, Tanzania, and the Maldives were some of the most successful tourism stories amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Kaoud said that besides the development of the country’s archaeological sites and the upcoming official opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), Egypt will soon be starting its vaccination programme.
“I would highly recommend that the Ministry of Health and Population, and Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, share a joint venture on a vaccination programme for the approximately one million employees in tourism and hospitality at a charge to ease the burden from the government,” he said, “The nation is supposed to receive 40 million doses of the vaccination medication, that will cover 20% of the country’s population.”
Egypt, in joint venture with UNWTO and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), created incentive programmes that include safety, hygiene protocols and tailor-made training plans to the hospitality sector.
Kaoud assured that those programmes must be implemented fast and in an organised manner.