February 4, 2018
Egypt starts a strategic campaign to revive the struggling tourism industry, bringing these two very unique individuals to the lonely Giza Pyramids last week Friday to spearhead the campaign
A revolution in early 2011, a popularly backed military coup in 2013, and a series of high-profile airline disasters, beginning with the downing of Metrojet 7K9268 in Sharm el-Sheikh in October 2015, have shattered an industry that made up 11.4% of Egypt’s GDP in 2015.
A slow drip of turmoil has ensured that any gains the industry made since the shock of 2011 have been reversed: figures released by Egypt’s official statistics agency, Capmas, show that tourist numbers in July 2016 were down 41.9%, compared to the same period in 2015. There was hope of recovery in 2017 before the church attack.
Critics say that until Egypt is truly transparent about the reasons behind the Metrojet crash, as well as the crash of EgyptAir flight 804, tourists won’t return with confidence.
Many tour companies have seen up to 75% reduction in bookings to Egypt since 2011, with 2016 figures a 20% drop on the already low booking figures of 2015. 2017 is further down but there seems hope on the horizon. “The question [everyone is asking] is, is Egypt stable?
The constant threat of Islamic terror is a major issue which has affected the industry in Egypt.
The government seems to be offering lips service to putting a stop to it. There are various hard line or esteem Islamic radicals and clerics causing serious instability within the society, all these factors keeps tourist away, considering what happened in time past on the beach in Algeria and the downing of Metrojet a Russian airline.
Many in the tourism industry feel the Cairo government has hung them out to dry. They say government pledges to resuscitate the industry to 15 million annual visitors haven’t been backed by logistical or financial help for those actually working on the ground.
“The government doesn’t care about tourists,” said Ahmed Ramadan Boghdady, owner of the New Monaliza souvenir stall that sits close to the famed Hatshepsut temple.
“You should care for people whose jobs depend on this – the guides, those guys selling water. They only care about us once we have money. Civil servants with a monthly wage don’t care about tourists.”
However, before the most recent Coptic church attacks in Alexandria and Tanta, there were indicators tourism could be on the upswing in 2017. But the Church attack and the manner of the attack has further swings the recovery pendulum downwards.
Every time Egyptians think they’re turning the corner, something else happens that undermines the tourism industry,” now they’re dealing with new terrorist attacks, which are likely to scare people away.
The slump in traffic is worrying for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation UNESCO, which is responsible for preserving the pyramids.
Egyptians were also hopeful that Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, actor Will Smith, and football superstar Lionel Messi’s recent visits to the pyramids would provide further momentum to a potential influx in foreign travelers.
There are hopes that Russia could lift its flight ban on Egypt this year, and Germany recently restarted direct flights to the popular Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The town was previously the main generator of tourism for Egypt and a keystone for UK tour companies. There has also been a ban on direct flights from the UK to Sharm el-Sheikh, but there is no ban on visiting the area – for now tourists have to fly there via Cairo.
Heathrow recently reinstated a direct EgyptAir flight to Luxor which is a good news for the industry. Political upheaval, air crashes and fears over security at ancient sites have devastated the country’s tourism industry – but the return of flights from the UK to Luxor is a welcome step towards recovery
Most the once glittering hotpots are just a shadow of the past. Most tour guides have abandoned the trade to pick up regular jobs elsewhere due to lack of tourist in the once popular locations.