By Rana Yehia
The peak of Arab tourism in Egypt is the summer, and although the number of Arab tourists coming to Egypt throughout last year did not surpass 1.6 million tourists, officials and tourism analysts expect that the number will increase this year.
Six months ago, Egypt started launching direct flights from many Arab cities, such as Riyadh, Kuwait and others to Sharm Al-Sheikh and Hurghada, aiming to increase the number of Arab tourists to these touristic destinations, and is currently studying the launch of direct flights to Luxor and Aswan. As Arab tourists mostly head to Cairo in summer, this step helped in promoting Arab tourism to other touristic destinations all year long, said a member in the Chamber of Hotels, Ali Ghoneim.
Targeting the increase of Arab tourism this summer, Egypt has launched several tourism marketing campaigns throughout 2014 and the first few months of 2015. These campaigns included the “We’ve Missed You” campaign launched in April 2014, and the “Egypt is Close” campaign launched earlier this year, targeting tourists from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
“We are expecting a significant increase in Arab tourism this summer as a result of the Economic Summit, which showed that Egypt is safe and stable, and of the marketing campaign “We’ve Missed You” that has resulted in an increase in the number of tourists since its launch. We hope that this increase continues and increases in summer,” Ghoneim added.
The coming of Ramadan in the summer will not significantly affect the number of Arab tourists coming to Cairo because many of them love to spend Ramadan nights in Egypt, Ghoneim noted, adding that all hotels and restaurants have good offers to attract more tourists.
For his part, tourism analyst Alaa Abdel-Wahab said that Arab people prefer spending Ramadan in their home countries with families. However, he expects the increase of Arab tourism this summer after the success of the Economic Summit, hoping that the marketing campaign “Egypt is Close”, which has yet to yield significant results, will result in higher rates in the summer.
Over the past few years, Arab tourists have reoriented their touristic destination to Turkey, which represents the biggest competitor to Egypt in the region. Tourists have preferred Turkey for its smooth entrance procedures, its good airport and hotel services, and for shopping. Turkey has witnessed a budget surplus after refunding its last debts last year, so they have been using this surplus to promote tourism, Abdel-Wahab noted.
Egyptian hotels and restaurants have been decreasing their prices due to the decline of tourism, aiming to increase the flows of tourists, making Egypt one of the cheapest touristic countries in the prices of hotels and restaurants currently, with the hopes that this will promote tourism during summer, Abdel-Wahab said.