Source: Cairo Post – By/Rany Mostafa
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
News, Cairo: President Al-Sisi meets with European Tour Operators to Boost Tourism
CAIRO: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met with a delegation of 15 top European tour operators to discuss ways to boost tourism, said presidential spokesperson Alaa Youssef Monday.
During the meeting, Sisi expressed Egypt’s “keenness” to overcome obstacles that might hinder the tourism industry, the country’s main source of hard currency. “The delegation discussed with the president ways to work more closely with the Egyptian authorities and other stakeholders to successfully grow the number of customers to 2010 tourism levels,” said Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou.
In 2010, which witnessed highest numbers of tourists to Egypt on record, 14.7 million persons visited the country while in 2013, which was the worst since the January 25 Revolution, only 9.5 million holidaymakers came, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS.)
“The delegation combined Europe’s leading travel agencies, representing over 85 percent of number of European tourists visiting Egypt every year. Some of these travel agencies have resumed their operations to Egypt to their normal rates starting from January 2015. The meeting is expected to have its positive impact on the cultural tourism soon,” Egyptian Tourism Federation Chairman Elhamy El-Zayat told The Cairo Post Monday.
Europe accounts for 72 percent of annual incoming tourism to Egypt, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism. Egypt’s tourism sector, which represents 11 percent of the country’s GDP, has been suffering from ongoing shocks ever since the 2011 January 25 Revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak. Despite a few instances of apparent recovery, continuous instability, political turmoil and a lack of security have remained challenges to the sector over the past three years.
According to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, travel advisories issued for the Sinai Peninsula caused tourism revenues to decrease in the first quarter of 2014 to $1.3 billion, down 43 percent from the same period in 2013.
In October, global tour operator Insight Vacations decided to resume its Egypt operations after three years of remaining out of the market due to political unrest. “We have been monitoring the destination closely and after extensive consultation with our teams on the ground, and in speaking with our travel partners, we are pleased and excited to be making a return into Egypt in January,” Paul Melinis, Insight Vacations’ U.K. director of sales, was quoted by TTGdigital.com in late September.
Over the past few months and due to a slight improvement in Egypt’s security status, many European countries have begun lifting travel bans to parts of Egypt. Many have lifted their travel ban to the Sinai, but still impose it on Cairo and Upper Egypt.
Deputy chief executive of TUI Travel, Johan Lundgren, who met with Sisi, said that his company has long been the market leader to Egypt, which has the attraction of being a year-round destination, according to ttgdigital.com. In the UK, customer satisfaction levels are at the highest they have ever been and across the Group, source markets that have not traditionally had Egypt in their program are now featuring it with strong demand,” said Lundgren.