The tourism sector is still operating Despite the crisis in over the past five years, according to Advisor to the Minister of Tourism Adla Ragab.
In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Ragab said 2015 was the toughest for the sector since it began, with terrorist bombings during the middle of the year and ending with the Russian plane crash by October.
During an interview with Daily News Egypt, she discussed her prediction of the indicators and statistic of the report for 2015, which is expected to be published in the first quarter of 2016.
What are your expectations for tourism revenues in 2015 and what is your plan to face the challenges?
Indicators point out that income will decline by the end of 2015 from $5.5bn and $6bn, compared to $7.3bn in 2014, marking a decline of 18%.
The Ministry of Tourism reconsidered its marketing plans after the Russian plane crash to deal with the crisis according to the new variables, in addition to coordinating with all other ministries that operate in tourism.
It also subsidised flights from Japan to Luxor by $70 per seat instead of $40 since December 2015. Inbound tourism from the UAE increased by 20% and Jordan by 70%.
The Ministry of Tourism also launched a promotional campaign in Riyadh and Saudi Arabia in December to stimulate growth in Arab tourism, which is one strategy implemented to prevent the negative effects of the lack of Russian and British tourists since November.
It also conducted negotiations with business partners in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, and Serbia to fly from those countries through an agreement with the EgyptAir Cairo. We are conducting a study with the Ministry of Civil Aviation with regards to the bilateral agreements with these companies.
The ministry is ready to provide support of up to $3,000 per flight from said countries. The total cost for charter flights ranges between $45,000 and $50,000. The sector will profit from the support the ministry will provide to its partners in those countries, which will be used to stimulate growth in the number of tourists coming from there.
Are the current circumstances pushing you to reconsider your marketing and promotion plans?
Yes; the ministry plans to establish a national carrier to increase inbound tourism to Egypt and avoid the monopolisation by tour operators, which may change their destinations to places other than Egypt, especially in times of crises.
The ongoing five-year crisis led us to consider this very carefully. This is feasible under the many variables facing the global tourism, but it will take time and effort.
When will you implement these solutions and what is the budget allocated for them?
These solutions are currently under study and will be implemented in emerging markets in cooperation with partners there, and in Egypt to allocate a budget for these markets in Asia and Eastern Europe to fly directly to Sharm El-Sheikh.
The ministry is waiting to reach an agreement with partners on the budget and the means of support to decide on whether we will pay agents or companies, and to agree on the entity that will oversee the project, whether the ministry or the union .
Have you undertaken special studies for the markets in which you will implement this plan?
The Ministry of Tourism uses help from foreign offices of the General Authority for Tourism Activation, as well as the studies conducted by the World Tourism Organisation (WTO).
Uzbekistan exports about five million tourists to Turkey and Europe every year. The sector must seek a presence in Central Asian countries as individual income there has increased in recent years.
Have you received offers from companies to operate tours to Egypt?
We received offers from a charter airline in Guangzhou, China and others from Morocco.
The ministry is considering all offers carefully to begin charter flights as soon as possible in cooperation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Under the suspension of Russian and British flights to Egypt, how does European inbound tourism to Egypt look?
The flow dropped sharply after British and Russian flights were suspended. We agreed with Cairo Air to fly directly from Paris to Luxor in the period between February and mid May. Some French tourists came via EgyptAir to Cairo and then flew to Luxor from there.
The government chose the British Control Risks to review security procedures in airports, which means that Russian and British flights will soon resume.
Russian tourism accounts for about 35% of total inbound tourist traffic to Egypt, and British tourism accounts for about 11%.