Last week during a one hour press conference in El Gouna Mr. Shokry discussed the current tourism in the Red Sea, Cairo & Luxor. On behalf of the Minister of Tourism, Hisham Zaazoo, who had to stay in Cairo to meet with some Arab ministers, he explained how the two revolutions hurt the country. While 14.7 million people visited Egypt in 2010 only 9.5 million came in 2013.
“What happened to Egypt won’t last long,” he said in a self-assured tone.
After 3 years the tourism is picking up this year. Since the month of April the numbers have started climbing and the Ministry of Tourism is optimistic to have recovered by April 2015. So far in 2014 Egypt already welcomed 10 million visitors.
Jihan Hanafy, the Tourism Concellor in Zurich for Egypt, shared that the Swiss have visited Egypt in large numbers in October. In comparison to last October it increased by 121%. She said the Swiss stay in a hotel at least 10 nights and love Egypt.
About 70% of the tourists coming to Egypt are mainly Russians, Germans, British, Polish and Italian. 20% come from the Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Emirates, Jordan and Libanon.
In 2014 the Minister of Tourism invested a lot of money in aggressive marketing campaigns to bring back tourism. And it worked, told proudly Mr. Shokry. After the “We Miss You” campaign in the Arab countries the number of people visiting in Sept 2014 compared to Sept 2013 jumped to 300%. The success came from online and outdoor campaigns in buses, taxis and cinemas.
Now the focus is turned toward China, India and Switzerland and on bringing back tourism to Cairo, Luxor and the Nile river.
While 80% of the tourists go to the Red Sea resorts for snorkeling and diving, only 10% go to Cairo.
To change things the government is planning to focus on cultural tourism. It will offer various musicals, sport events and meetings in the cities suffering from the lack of tourism. The Sphinx will be reopened. Mr. Shokry talked gladly about the triumph of the French composer, Jean Michel Jearre, who did a concert at the pyramids of Giza for the turning of the millennium. Celebration is the way to go, he concluded.
As well some tour guides are now bringing tourists on the Holy Family Trail. It is a great way to visit monasteries and churches.
In Cairo much is done to make sure the vendors at the pyramids are not harassing the tourists and to improve the traffic congestion. Two governors are taking care of the capital and working on a plan. Egypt would like to improve traffic management in setting new driving rules, fixing old roads, building new ones and penalizing drivers’ bad behaviors.
Lately much money and time was spent on safety. In the Red Sea Riviera, in Hurghada cameras have been installed in the streets and gate controls. In the desert there is a special force of police guarding the territory. There are patrols and the army keeping an eye to make sure the tourists are having a peaceful time. In Cairo the police increased safety procedures, forces in the streets and added moving cars 24 hours a day to check the situation, said Jihan Hanafy.
The New Suez Canal, which was inaugurated in August by the Egyptian President, Abdulfattah el-Sisi, will bring new jobs for Egypt and more investment, said Mr. Shokry. The canal is supposed to be a new lane to the existing canal, built 145 years ago, and is expected to be a big booster for the Egyptian economy.