Setting a confident course for the future, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism has launched a new campaign. Panayiotis Markides investigates.
Ever eager to shine the spotlight on its tourism sector, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism, spearheaded by Minister of Tourism, Hisham Zaazou, announced the 2015 campaign, ‘Masr Qareeba’, otherwise known as ‘Egypt is close’, aimed at attracting tourists and investors from the GCC region to Egypt.
GCC investments are already making their way to Egypt with Qatari Diar’s upcoming Nile Corniche project, which will include the St. Regis Cairo, expected to open in 2016, with the aim being to increase the number of similar projects around the country.
This was expressed by chairman, Egypt Tourism Authority, Samy Mahmoud who exclusively informed TTGabout the steps the Ministry of Tourism is taking to showcase Egypt’s investment opportunities: “Minister Hisham Zaazou will present five projects to interested investors during the upcoming conference on development and investment in Egypt that will be held in Sharm El Sheikh in March 2015.”
To this end, the campaign has been met with strong support from tourism industry stakeholders. TTG reached out to find out how they stand to benefit from what can surely be a positive stride.
Signalling the importance of tourism to Egypt’s economy, general manager, InterContinental Cairo Semiramis, Samer Sobhy highlighted the move as a step in the right direction: “Visitors and guests from the GCC countries make up to 18 to 19 per cent of tourists to Egypt. We have seen its significant influence on inbound tourism to Egypt and we saw the increase of bookings in December 2013 and January 2014.”
Sobhy revealed that tourism has long been an integral part and major contributor to Egypt’s national economy, and despite recent challenges, the property has seen a return of GCC travellers to Cairo in particular.
A similar outlook was displayed by director of sales and marketing – Africa, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Stephen Banks, who noted to TTG that the company fully supports the campaign. “We have recently seen an uplift in GCC business, especially in our hotel in Sharm El Sheikh.”
Banks also noted that Mövenpick has taken a two-pronged approach regarding promotion: firstly by arranging road-shows across the GCC to promote the company’s 10 hotels and Nile Cruise Boats, and secondly, targeting the local Egyptian meetings market, which has grown rapidly.
Further support was demonstrated by director of marketing, Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan, Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor and Pavillon Winter Luxor, Lamia Assem who noted that the hotels were working closely with the Ministry of Tourism in order to gain business.
With rapturous support of the Tourism Ministry’s endeavours to attract Arab investment, as well as a confident offering that ensures Egypt will forever enjoy tourism appeal, it is also apparent that the industry is turning its eyes to a variety of markets.
In line with the ‘Masr Qareeba’ campaign, hospitality companies are keen on attracting the GCC markets, as Sobhy illuminated: “We will continue to target our GCC and European feeder markets and of course we are working on new markets including China and India to mention a few.”
CEO, TIME Hotels, Mohamed Awadalla also highlighted the importance of the GCC for bringing guests to the upcoming property: “The GCC and the Middle Eastern markets will continue to be important for us and as such we will have renewed vigour to showcase our property.”
He added that this focus would be in combination with targeting particular markets including the UK, Scandinavia and Russia.
Banks noted that 2015 has had an optimistic start with a rise in demand from markets such as Germany and the UK.
Agreeing that for a large body of European markets the country makes for an attractive option was director of hospitality operations, Soma Bay, Mohamed Fawzy who said: “Our key markets are Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the UK, France and Italy.”
And with such strong groundwork in place, it is only a matter of time before the results begin to show, with endeavours such as expansion.
Awadalla informed TTG that the Dubai-based company is eager to enter the Egyptian market by virtue of having been awarded the management contract for the luxury five-star TIME Renero Resort and TIME Suites.
He added that the property is part of the Azzurra project, an integral component of the Sahl Hasheesh development, a resort covering 40 million metres of Egypt’s Red Sea Coast.
A magnetic destination, Egypt has shown that it is not only a prime spot for its GCC neighbours, but that it still has the pulling power to attract visitors the world over.