Wednesday, December 23, 2015

News: Egypt to Launch Campaign Attracting Gulf Tourists

Following Russian plane disaster in October, tourism industry suffered after some countries cancelled flights to Sharm El-Sheikh and Egypt altogether.

Egypt is launching on Monday a campaign targeting citizens from Gulf countries under the name of "This is Egypt" (#ThisIsEgypt), in an attempt to revive the country's ailing industry of hospitality. This is Egypt will kick off in Saudi Arabia's Jeddah, with Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zazou currently visiting the oil-rich monarchy to launch the campaign that will also target the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait.

Earlier this month, another campaign was launched on social media using the same hashtag, when Egypt's Ministry of Tourism called on people to snap photos from all over the country and show the world a firsthand account of the “real” Egypt.

Sami Mahmoud, chairman of Egypt's tourism authority (affiliated to the Ministry of Tourism) said the new month-long campaign aims at attracting Arab tourists during Christmas-breaks and mid-year vacations. "Arabs are more understanding of what happened with the Russian plane incident. We are counting on the close ties between these countries and Egypt," Mahmoud told Aswat Masriya.

Following the Russian airline disaster late October, which saw all 224 passengers and crew members killed, several countries suspended flights to Sharm El-Sheikh and even the country altogether over security fears. Russia, among other countries, concluded that the plane was brought down by a bomb.

Mahmoud pointed out that the campaign, which will depend heavily on social media, would also include a promotional video that targets audiences from the Gulf. The video will be screened on satellite channels in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait. It will also be displayed on screens in major business centres, Mahmoud said.

Zazou explained that the campaign focuses on these three Gulf countries in particular as they are on the top of the list of Arab countries that contribute to tourism in Egypt. In 2014, the annual report of tourism statistics showed that Saudi Arabia contributes to 21.6 percent of tourism in the country. The country also ranks sixth highest in the amount of citizens that visit Egypt.

The tourism sector is one of Egypt's main sources of foreign currency, which is desperately needed so that the country can buy basic foodstuffs, among other obligations. Foreign currency reserves in Egypt are almost at a critical level, standing at $16.41 billion at the end of October, most of which is made up of Gulf deposits.

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