Destination Egypt

Egypt

Topping the bucket lists of culture junkies and sun, sea and sand seekers the world over, Egypt fully understands the needs of its visitors and is once again rising the tourism ranks, attracting all types of markets and new investment. Tatiana Tsierkezou reports.

Topping the bucket lists of culture junkies and sun, sea and sand seekers the world over, Egypt fully understands the needs of its visitors and is once again rising the tourism ranks, attracting all types of markets and new investment. Tatiana Tsierkezou reports

Following an uphill struggle, Egypt is finally regaining its reputation as a safe and stable destination. As a result of these improving opinions of the country, the tourism industry is flourishing and developing at a healthy pace, with the reappearance of traditional markets having been witnessed in recent years. But not only this; Egypt is now growing in popularity among new, previously untouched markets, that are setting their sights on its incredible portfolio of hotels and tourist facilities, as well as the incomparable experiences on offer, which guarantee memories to last a lifetime.

THE HOTEL SHOW DUBAI 2019

Sales and marketing manager, Camel Dive Club & Hotel, Sharm El Sheikh, Ornella Ditel elaborated on this: “The Egyptian tourism industry has greatly improved due to new, emerging markets that were not visiting before, which are now travelling to Egypt. The ever-increasing sense of safety is widely perceived by international travellers and supported by an impressive number of direct flights to Sharm El Sheikh International Airport, departing from Europe and nearby countries.”

When quizzed about the message she would like to send to global travellers regarding the country, Ditel told TTG: “The message that should be portrayed to global travellers is that Egypt is safe and still has a lot to offer, especially when it comes to the natural resource of the Red Sea. “There is still so much to discover in terms of efficiently targeting informed travellers who not only seek a generic beach holiday, but also look at making a difference when they travel by choosing responsible operators,” Ditel added.

But it’s not just the leisure segment of travellers that is bringing forth fruitful results. According to vice president, Baron Hotels & Resorts – Egypt, Sherif Shahein, the corporate sector has grown from strength to strength in recent years.

“Nowadays, Egypt is witnessing a business lift out of the corporate segment, particularly in city hotels. However, travel bans still represent a bold factor that affects the UK and CIS markets. Security and stability are major cornerstones in tourism development, and these have been restored throughout the last couple of years.”

WHERE ARE THEY FROM?

With travel and tourism stakeholders all expressing their contentment with the country’s recent tourism performance, TTG was curious to find out exactly who is visiting the country and why.

Shahein shed some light on this: “Egypt is one of the favoured hotspots for Middle Eastern and GCC holidaymakers, while a remarkable pick-up has been witnessed from various markets such as Baltic, Eastern Europe and Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, mainly for Sharm El Sheikh. As for the Red Sea and Marsa Alam, we witnessed a very positive increase from the West European region, mainly the German market, as well as the British, Belgian and Dutch markets.”

Reflecting on 2018, he explained that during the previous year, Baron’s hotels witnessed a positive pick up, especially at Baron Palace Sahl Hasheesh, which was particularly popular among Western European markets. In order to keep the number up, the hospitality company has been introducing regular promotions and keeping up-to-date with vital market information, as well as numerous other initiatives.

Also keen on keeping its numbers up is the Camel Dive Club & Hotel, Sharm El Sheikh, whose records showed a healthy number of visitors from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Scandinavia and Turkey, in addition to the traditional GCC market.

“These markets will be fundamental to our business again this year and we are expecting a 25 per cent growth on average across our main markets,” Ditel said.

Referring to the Scandi market specifically, she explained that travellers from this region love to travel in the winter months to Sharm el Sheikh for winter sun.

“This is not the usual trend. Other markets – including Italy, for example – tend to use the summer months for their holidays.”

Eager to stimulate footfall from other markets, Camel Dive Club & Hotel, Sharm El Sheikh will be closely monitoring the response to its innovative campaigns that are targeting the Indian and Japanese scuba diving markets, while the property is placing its hopes on the resumption of flights from the UK to restore the British market to its former glory.

Pin-pointing a trend, Ditel said: “The British market appears to be getting more adventurous in finding alternative routes to reach Sharm el Sheikh. Many guests from this market are now happy to fly via alternative airports, such as Istanbul and Cairo, to reach their chosen destination.”

Meanwhile, the GCC market is constantly bringing forth positive results. Egypt’s tourism stakeholders have labelled it the most fundamental market of the last decade.

Speaking to TTG about this exclusively was vice president, operations – Egypt, AccorHotels, Frank Naboulsi, who is also the general manager of Fairmont Nile City: “The GCC market proved to be the healthiest one last year. The industry’s dynamic nature leads to the emergence of various trends, with weekend travellers making headlines in 2018, especially from the GCC region.”

Naboulsi explained that the corporate segment in Egypt witnessed a tremendous comeback due to an increase in investors, particularly since Egypt’s Tourism Development Authority has been strongly supporting the state’s policy and focus on tourism development, recognising it as the second-highest contributor to gross national income.

SENSATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

With the resurgence of faith in Egypt as a tourism destination, industry movers and shakers are keen to further develop the country’s hospitality portfolio. Colliers International recently reported that Egypt’s hotels witnessed an average RevPAR growth of 30 per cent in January 2019 compared to the corresponding month last year, mainly driven by ADR and occupancy rate – a result of increased corporate, leisure and MICE activity.

Anticipating incredible results this year, Colliers International forecasts that Cairo, Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada and Alexandria will witness occupancy rates of 77 per cent, 58 per cent, 68 per cent and 80 per cent, respectively.

With these figures truly speaking for themselves, it comes as no surprise that plenty of enhancements to existing properties are in the pipeline, as well as further hotel development.

Baron Hotels & Resorts will be adding an additional 140 keys to Baron Hotel Heliopolis, Cairo’s room count, according to Shahein.

“Moreover, it will be totally renovated to a luxurious boutique style hotel and it will mainly target corporate, business travellers and MICE events,” he explained, adding that two more five-star hotels are in line for the Red Sea region, each of which boasts 350 rooms and suites.

Also keen on enhancing its offering to attract more tourists, Fairmont Nile City introduced its impressive four-bedroom Royal Suite late last year, which, according to Naboulsi, ‘redefines modern luxury’. The new facility, which spans 500m2, offers incomparable and highly bespoke services and experiences, and boasts the only interactive in-room Crestron digital system in downtown Cairo, allowing guests to access and manage all elements of their stay via the in-room tablet device, Alexa vocal command or through smart phones.

“The suite is complemented by the most attentive and discreet butler service,” Naboulsi explained.

Finally, at this year’s ITB Berlin, Rixos Hotels revealed that it will be significantly expanding its footprint in Egypt, following the success of its existing properties in the country. The hotelier revealed that it will be inaugurating two new ultra-all-inclusive properties in Hurghada, in prime seaside locations, which are expected to launch in late 2019, as well as new hotels in Magawish and Makadi Bay.

Board member and managing director, Rixos Hotels – Egypt, Erkan Yildirim also confirmed ongoing negotiations for new properties in Sahl Hasheesh, Marsa Alam and Cairo.

With stakeholders willing to inject more money into Egypt’s tourism industry due to the positivity sweeping the country, the only way is up for this culture-fuelled tourism gem.