The celebrated land of Egypt has returned to claim its throne among tourism leaders, after encountering a series of trials and tribulations in recent years. Aleksandra Wood uncovers the thriving destination’s latest industry news.
Egypt, home to the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Sphinx, the ruins of Memphis, the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, Karnak and the Valley of the Kings, is hailed as a prodigious goldmine of culture and history.
Crowned the cradle of civilisation, the nation has experienced some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Its rich cultural heritage remains an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and even subsumed, numerous foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman and European.
Cluster director of sales and marketing, Fairmont Nile City, Magdi Gamil remarked on the country’s charm: “Egypt is one of the most diverse destinations in the world. It offers an array of vacation choices varying between cultural, diving, fishing, water sports, medical, spiritual and eco-tourism.
“The country has the ability to cater to different tastes and interests, but what makes it truly unique is the authentic culture, which comprises a fusion of civilisations witnessed over the past 6,000 years, adding a distinctive flavour for visitors,” he added.
And despite the unrest that has swept the country in recent years, Egypt has risen from the ashes an almighty Phoenix, ready to take on even the most trying of challenges and re-establish itself as the leading tourism destination of North Africa.
The country’s industry is in a constant state of development, as affirmed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, which recently named Egypt the second fastest growing destination of the year.
Much to its advantage, the nation has been observing noteworthy influxes in tourism numbers, namely from the GCC, which has slowly but surely returned to its position as the top feeder market.
“Egypt has witnessed a 51 per cent spike in international tourist arrivals this year and is on course to welcome nearly eight million holiday travellers in 2017,” revealed regional director of communications and public relations, Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts, Egypt, and Jaz Collection, Egypt, Areej Mohieldin. “The country is aiming to boost the number of visitors it receives from the GCC region by up to 25 per cent this year, as part of the government’s plan to revive its tourism sector, a key contributor to its economy.”
Indeed, the Government of Egypt has been pushing all boundaries to facilitate the rise and flow of tourism, rolling out several widely successful strategies to bolster its efforts and catapult the industry to the position of a global leader in tourism. Further elaborating on this was general manager, Semiramis InterContinental Cairo, Sameh Sobhy, who said: “A variety of governmental initiatives, including regional and international support, not to mention an extensive international promotional campaign targeting niche and new markets, continue to promote Egypt as an attractive destination. Results are evident. The ‘This Is Egypt’ promotional video, released by the Egyptian Tourism Authority, just recently won for the Middle East region in the second competition run by the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s 22nd assembly.”
Meanwhile, also among the key contributors to the industry’s growth are airlines, according to Fairmont Nile City’s Gamil, with the country having reinstated charter flights from major destinations such as Tokyo. As a result of this new confidence in the destination, several international cities are putting Egypt back on their travel map.
Regional vice president – Egypt and general manager, Fairmont Nile City, Frank Naboulsi exclusively told TTG: “Our current main feeder market is the GCC region, however, as travel bans are being lifted, multiple markets are actually looking forward to coming back to Egypt, such as the North American, Japanese and Eastern European markets.”
But without change, there cannot be growth – a concept that is recognised and well received by Egypt. As the industry rises to its former glory, key players are keen to meet trends head on with a number of developments.
Egypt’s infrastructure is undergoing notable changes to accommodate the number of tourists flocking back to the remarkable destination.
“For two years now, constant efforts are being exerted to improve the country’s infrastructure,” declared Fairmont Nile City’s Gamil. “From modifying roads leading to and from airports to intensifying security check procedures, a sense of confidence is gradually being restored in tourists to visit a once again safe Egypt. Moreover, numerous sightseeing attractions are being transformed to provide tourists with an enhanced cultural experience, allowing Egypt to continue competing with international destinations.”
And, as confirmed by Semiramis InterContinental Cairo’s Sobhy, the country is pulling out all the stops to introduce new attractions and update its current offering. Egypt recently celebrated the inauguration of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, which features 50,000 historical pieces that narrate the development of Egyptian civilisation. The brand-new attraction closely followed the re-opening of the Museum of Islamic Art. Both museums are located in the country’s capital, Cairo.
And as Egypt climbs the tourism ranks once again, one new and noteworthy trend has emerged – eco-consciousness. Industry players are becoming more and more environmentally-conscious by the day, and thus, are doing all they can to adopt a ‘green’ approach and ameliorate their services with the environment in mind.
One such environmentally-dedicated entity is the Jaz Collection brand, which has a number of properties across Egypt. The brand’s regional director of communications and public relations, Mohieldin, touched on some of its ‘green’ initiatives: “Within our group of hotels, we are committed to transforming all our properties to ‘green’ hotels, by applying international sustainability measures and procedures. In recent years, 36 Jaz Collection properties have been certified as ‘green’ and have advocated sustainability, when and where possible, with success. To be able to showcase all our efforts, we have created the ‘Jaz Go Green’ website to keep guests aware and updated.”
Echoing the same sentiment was Semiramis InterContinental Cairo’s Sobhy, who told TTG: “Our hotel uses the IHG Green Engage system, an innovative online environmental sustainability system that gives our hotel the means to measure and manage our impact on the environment. We can choose from over 200 green solutions that are designed to help us reduce energy, water and waste, and improve our impact on the environment.”
It seems as though Egypt’s tourism industry is as busy as ever and ready to welcome returning travellers and newcomers with a fresh and updated perspective, strongly supported by centuries of culture. As eloquently said by Fairmont Nile City’s Gamil: “The country’s outlook is extremely optimistic and we are indeed excited to receive 2018.”