GCC tourists seen to flock to Egypt

GCC tourists seen to flock to Egypt
A tourist at Karnak temple in Luxor. Egypt is aiming to attract 20 million tourists by 2020, twice as much as what it is today.

Dubai - Around 55,000 Emirati tourists visited Egypt last year.

Published: Sun 2 Aug 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 3 Aug 2015, 11:45 AM

Egypt's regional tourism office in the near east has been shifted from Istanbul to Abu Dhabi, disclosed Sami Mahmoud, chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Authority.
"The move is part of the distinctive Egyptian-UAE relations, which have seen a remarkable progress on political and economic levels over recent years," he said.
Mahmoud expected the activity of the office to help increase Egypt-bound GCC and Arab tourism from 17 per cent to 25 per cent by the end of the current year.
He was speaking at a ceremony held recently in Dubai to celebrate the opening of the new office. It was attended by a number of diplomats and representatives of tourism and travel agencies in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The relocated office will be tasked with promoting tourism to Egypt in the GCC, as well as in Jordan and Lebanon.
Mahmoud estimated that as many as one million tourists will visit Egypt every year, refuelling $1.5 million to the country's coffers, with the figure seen to shoot up to $2 billion by the end of this year.
Around 55,000 Emirati tourists visited Egypt last year, he said.
"Though Emirati tourists came in fifth place in the list of Arab tourists visiting Egypt after Saudis, Kuwaitis, Jordanians and Lebanese, they spend as much as $4,000 every day; European touristss spending doesn't exceed $75," he revealed.
The plan of the authority targets increasing the number of tourists heading to Egypt from about 10 million at present to 20 million tourists by 2020, with the rate of Arab tourists to rise from 17 per cent to 35 per cent of the total tourists in Egypt.
"The GCC tourist focuses his visit to the capital Cairo, while the country has various beach, desert, archeological and cultural landmarks in the different provinces," he said, adding there are also River Nile downstream journeys from Cairo to Aswan for families, which GCC tourists can enjoy in a secure and private environment, seldom found in other parts of the world.
Mahmoud, however, attributed the decline of Arab tourism to Egypt to what he termed as visas problem and less flights to Egypt, despite the various tourist landmarks and the common cultural factors. He stressed on the necessity of opening of the air space for Arab airlines to serve Egypt in order to boost inter-Arab tourism.
"The infrastructure of the Egyptian tourism sector has seen a huge expansion, and is gearing up for adding as many as 230,000 hotel rooms within the next two years, bringing the total hotel rooms to 500,000 with occupancy rate ranging between 80 to 85 per cent accommodating more than 38 million tourists per annum," he said.
According to figures, a total of four million employees work in Egypt's tourism sector, which 70 other industries are based on. It shares 11.3 per cent in the country's gross national income, which is equivalent to $12.5 billion and is expected to rise to $27 billion by 2020.
"Hotels in Egypt can accommodate 38 million with 25,000 rooms, and are expected to multiply to 500,000 by the advent of 2020 with occupancy rate that reaches 80 per cent in seasons and festivities," he added.
Ahmed Ali, director of the office in Abu Dhabi said he was looking forward to seeing the number of tourists increase during festivities and upcoming holidays, benefiting from the UAE market, which is home to more than 200 nationalities.
Egypt is launching a promotional campaign themed "Egypt is close", which will continue until 2018, and will make a road show in 27 global tourist markets in addition to the GCC states, Jordan and Lebanon.
Nabila Karam, Minister Plenipotentiary at the Egyptian Consulate in Dubai, hailed the cooperation of the Emirati authorities in providing assistance to boost Egypt's economy and tourism.
- salah@khaleejtimes.com

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