By Abdel Razek Al-Shuwekhi
The tourism ministry signed a cooperation protocol with search engine Google at the end of May to promote 15 types of tourism in Egypt, said Chairman of the International Tourism Sector at the General Authority for Tourism Ahmed Shoukry.
“E-marketing for tourism to Egypt is a great way to increase to presence within markets and to attract new tourist demographics to Egypt, especially young people,” he added.
According to Shoukry, Egypt aims to attract 2% of incoming tourists annually through the internet by using online reservations with airlines and hotels.
He added that approximately 50 million people have visited Egypt’s website so far, and that number is expected to increase to 100 million monthly.
The marketing campaigns launched by the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with Google include the Arab countries, which represent 20% of the incoming tourism traffic, and the nations of Europe, which represent 72%.
Using modern means to market in Egypt is a new concept that is spreading thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and foreign hotel management companies, according to Hossam Darwish, Coordinator of E-Marketing at the Arab Tourism Organization of the Arab League.
Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou signed a cooperation protocol with Visa for electronic payments at the beginning of the month.
Zaazou said he felt that Egypt had an opportunity to attract arrivals comprising 4% of the total amount of incoming tourists to Egypt each year in light of the sector’s expansion through new means of marketing, whether they be employed by airlines, hotels or tour companies.
“Online bookings for airline tickets require time and effort and we must also ration expenses,” said Hassan Aziz, Chairman of the Egyptian Federation for Private Aviation, adding that airlines are expanding the use of online bookings. This has taken place in light of their expanding within the markets in which they are located, whether that be in Europe or the Arab world.
Darwish hopes to expand the use of the internet for hotel bookings by 20% over the next three years, as this will have a positive impact on the economy. Companies will be able to pay their taxes online to the finance ministry.
Egypt’s tourism income declined during the first quarter of this year to $1.3bn, down 43% from the same period last year.
“We need to move quickly in light of fierce competition from other tourist destinations in the region, especially Turkey and Greece in the East Mediterranean,” said Elhamy Zayat, Chairman of the Egyptian Federation of Chambers of Tourism.
The Ministry of Tourism has urged hotels to train their employees on marketing methods, and the Chamber of Tourism recently conducted workshops for its members, especially exotic tourism companies.
“Recently we have established several training programmes, focusing on the use of the internet in marketing. We also touched on increasing the company’s presence in markets that bring tourists to Egypt,” said Amr Sedky, Board Member and Training Official at the Chambers of Tourism.