Egypt is reclaiming its position among the tourism greats. Natalie Hami reports.
Steeped in ancient mystery, Egypt is ready to embrace international tourists and has triumphantly begun to elevate itself to its former status. The country is in gear to transform its tourism sector, with industry movers and shakers working hard to boost footfall and attract investment from hospitality giants spanning all four corners of the globe.
The World Travel & Tourism Council recently revealed that a healthy 16.5 per cent growth in Egypt’s travel industry was witnessed last year, with the destination becoming the fastest-growing country in North Africa, second only to Ethiopia, when reviewing the whole continent. This came hot on the heels of an incredibly prosperous 2017, which witnessed a travel and tourism growth rate of 54.8 per cent in the country. Furthermore, travel and tourism supported 11.9 per cent of Egypt’s GDP in 2018, and this contribution is projected to grow even further by 5.4 per cent this year.
Known for its cultural majesty, Egypt is more than capitalising on its heritage and is paying homage to its past with the new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in Cairo. Expected to open in 2020, the museum forms part of the government’s mission to invest in projects relating to cultural heritage. History buffs will be in their element, as the GEM is the only museum with the ancient pyramids as a backdrop (the site is just two kilometres from the pyramids) and will house the full collection of Tutankhamen.
As Egypt re-establishes its position in the region’s tourism ranks, the destination is truly ripe for investment and top hospitality groups are noticing its incredible potential.
One such example of this is Radisson Hotel Group, which recently signed for six new hotels in Egypt as part of a portfolio deal across a number of its brands. The agreement was signed with existing business partner, Zaghloul Holdings, and the six hotels include Radisson Collection Hotel Cairo Heliopolis, Radisson Blu Serviced Apartments Cairo Heliopolis, Radisson Blu Hotel Cairo Golf City, Radisson Hotel New Cairo, Radisson Hotel & Resort Ain Sokhna and Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort Makadi Bay, Hurghada.
Adding to this, InterContinental Hotels Group will be debuting its voco brand in Egypt, with the development of voco Giza Pyramids, scheduled to open in 2022. Part of a mixed-use development, which will include a high-end mall, the 17,000m2 hotel will cater to both business and leisure travellers.
As for recent openings, luxury hotel company, Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts, recently launched Steigenberger Hotel El Lessan, in the popular holiday destination of Ras el Bar. The hotel boasts 153 rooms, including 15 suites, with all keys featuring balconies with Nile and sea views. The high-end hospitality expert also plans on opening a second property, the 132-room Steigenberger Resort Achti, on the East bank of the Nile, just metres away from the Great Pyramids of Giza.
In a bid to attract and retain visitors, Minister for Tourism, HE Dr. Rania Al-Mashat recently unveiled the New Hospitality Criteria programme, which forms part of the ‘Egypt—Tourism Reform Program’ launched last year for Egyptian hotels. The new criteria programme was developed through a joint effort by the Ministry, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Egyptian Hotel Association.
During the conference that was held to announce the new programme, Al-Mashat said: “This is an important step that will give the Ministry the leverage to monitor hotels and ensure that the quality of services provided to Egypt’s tourists are in line with international standards.”
Complimenting this is Egypt’s tourism stakeholders’ dedication to increasing footfall on the destination’s unforgettable shores. Given the power of social media, both within the industry and beyond, hospitality companies have begun collaborating with social media influencers and bloggers, while also utilising key social media platforms to promote their properties.
Vice president, Baron Hotels & Resorts Egypt, Sherif Shahein told TTG: “We have collaborated with several bloggers and social media influencers in Egypt to expand our reach and exposure locally, and we are working on future collaborations with international bloggers as well.”
Vice president, operations, Egypt, Accor and general manager, Fairmont Nile City, Frank Naboulsi echoed this sentiment, noting that the hospitality powerhouse is keen to cash in on the benefits of its social media and online platforms. “Knowing how beneficial these channels are when used efficiently, we are dedicated to answering inquiries and reviews in a timely manner while addressing concerns.”
As well as a focus on social media, Naboulsi explained to TTG that Accor’s Egypt properties have adopted key strategies to ensure their hospitality is of a high standard. “First and foremost is guest satisfaction. Catering to every need is pivotal in order to ensure loyalty and positive feedback,” he explained.
Naboulsi also elaborated on the group’s loyalty programme, Le Club AccorHotels, which provides guests with access to a range of exclusive benefits and rewards spanning all 38 brands in every corner of the world, ranging from luxury to economy. “The programme opens the door to even more services and VIP advantages through our partners, including but not limited to airlines, car rental services and fashion,” he added.
“Last but not least, we work very closely with our local partners – ranging from travel agencies to tour guides – in order to create tailor-made packages that guests will find attractive and interesting, based on their preferences and needs.”
Also shedding light on strategies was regional director of sales and marketing – Egypt, Stella Di Mare Hotels and Resorts, Bassem Maurice, who exclusively told TTG that the hospitality group will be increasing footfall using a combination of social media, promotional rates and attractive offers, while quality of service offered, exhibitions, roadshows, as well as direct contact with guests are also of vital importance.
Triumphantly striding forth, Egypt’s travel industry is reawakening, with tourism stakeholders leading the way.