Tourism companies formed six alliances to participate in the tourism programme “Egypt is in Our Hearts” that was launched by the Ministry of Tourism to support touristic areas in Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada, Luxor, and Aswan.
The companies of the six alliances include El-Nahar Tours, Cairo Airport Travel, Overseas Tours, Al-Yamani, Egyptian Nile Tours, and Lucky Tours. An official in the Egyptian Travel Agents Association (ETAA) said they requested any willing companies to implement a programme from any of the six companies.
The Ministry of Tourism will suspend the “Egypt is in Our Hearts” initiative during schools’ winter holiday in January since there is already an increasing demand on Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada during that time.
Board Member of ETAA Adel Abdel Razek said tourism programmes targeting Egyptians must cover the entire year, and should not be neglected or exist only during periods of crises. He believes the major cause of the low rate of domestic travel is the high prices of plane tickets, although EgyptAir reduced its prices in the past period.
The decision to suspend the programme during the current period came due to the usual high demands during the winter holidays, as support from the Ministry of Tourism is not required, the official however noted. The programme is meant to support tourism during periods of crisis, and will resume after the winter holiday in cooperation with the tourism companies, and the Ministries of Tourism and Aviation, he continued.
The official expects more than 20 companies to participate in the programme in cooperation with the National Bank of Egypt. “The programme aims to increase hotel occupancies in areas suffering from the lack of tourists, especially in Luxor and Aswan,” he said.
The programme’s prices range from EGP 600 to EGP 4,000, including the plane ticket, for four nights, according to the hotel’s category.
Abdel Razek said there are negotiations with private airlines to organise trips to tourism destinations in Hurghada, Luxor, and Aswan. The private airlines can provide good offers with low prices that suit domestic tourists.
Member of ETAA in Luxor and Aswan Tharwar El-Agami criticised the suspension of the tourism programmes midyear. “The decision will limit Egyptians’ ability to visit the archaeological areas in Luxor and Aswan, since there will not be a better time than the midyear holidays to visit these areas.”
According to El-Agami, the hotels in Luxor and Aswan have suffered most since the 25 January Revolution in 2011; more than 250 hotels and Nile boats shut down because of lack of tourists in the area.