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How Egypt’s tourism ministry is recovering from COVID-19

The phenomenal history that is captured in Egypt along with relaxed visa policies and affordable rates make Egypt a top destination for hungry tourists.

The global tourism economy is rapidly recovering after the pandemic and travel looks like it has returned to normal but it will take a few years for economies to recoup their losses.

Egypt is one of the economies that suffered greatly during COVID 19 but the Tourism Ministry is pouring billions into the sector to give it a much-needed facelift and launch it to new heights.

Early indications are looking positive and the first quarter of the 2022/2023 financial year has shown great promise for Egypt’s tourism recovery.

The phenomenal history that is captured in Egypt along with relaxed visa policies and affordable rates make Egypt a top destination for hungry tourists.

Financial support for museums
The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that Egypt’s tourism sector lost nearly $18 billion during the pandemic, an industry that accounts for around 12% of the country’s GDP.

The first efforts to revive the industry were a huge push from the Tourism Ministry to restore archaeological sites and two parades that made the world sit up and take notice.

Egypt’s former Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El Anany explained that it is not only a tourism effort but also a way for the country to preserve its heritage and treasures on an unprecedented scale.

“Even during Covid when we didn’t have tourists, I’m getting the full budget I’m asking for…I’m getting billions and billions of Egyptian pounds,” he said. “We are paying like we never paid before to preserve our heritage.”

Egypt has more than 2,500 archeological sites but El Anany explained that only a few dozen are visited by tourists leaving them with a huge untapped resource.

He already invested $80 million in museums across the country in 2017, spearheading various projects to reopen museums and create modern ones alike.

Some of the major projects in Cairo included the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation, the Naguib Mahfouz Museum, the Hurghada Museum, the Sharm El Sheikh Museum, the Kafr El Sheikh Museum, and the Royal Carriages Museum.

The ministry also supported museums in smaller cities like Sharqia and Marsa Matrouh. El Anany explained that this isn’t exclusively a tourism drive.

“When I open museums in Sharqia, Tanta, Sohag, El Minya, it doesn’t bring me tourists, but it’s very important for awareness and to preserve the Egyptian identity.”

The Pharoah’s Golden parade and the Avenue of Sphinxes Parade were two major events that focused the eyes of the world on Egypt.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to show the world that we respect our heritage and our ancestors,” El Anany said and added that “[he has] been a minister for six years, and when I meet someone, they say, thank you and congratulations for the two parades.”

The former took 19 months to plan and saw 22 royal mummies paraded from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation in specially designed vehicles on a newly paved road.

Accolades and record-setting revenue for Egypt
TripAdvisor’s annual Traveller’s Choice list for 2023 has been released and two Egyptian destinations shot to top positions in the Middle East region.

Hurghada with its idyllic beaches and Cairo with its wealth of historic attractions took the 2nd and 3rd spot respectively, beating out modern mega cities like Doha and Abu Dhabi.

These achievements show love from tourists that have already visited the destinations but also a keen interest from prospective travelers.

The Central Bank of Egypt also revealed that the first Quarter of 2022 saw a 43.1% increase in revenue compared to the same time the previous year.

This meant there was $4.1 billion coming into the country between June and September 2022 from the 3.4 million tourists that entered Egypt.

What lies ahead for Egypt’s tourism
The Minister of Tourism and Antiquities is looking for a 25% year-on-year growth in the number of incoming tourists between 2023 and 2028.

“We are going to ensure that [tourism] in Egypt continues to grow by 25 percent to 30 percent per annum over the coming five years until we reach 30 million tourists by 2028, maximum by 2030, God willing.”

This will see Egypt welcoming some 30 million tourists in the next 5 years, an ambitious undertaking by the newly appointed Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Ahmed Issa.

He highlighted a few issues with the current state of the sector by saying that “countries with more than 30 million tourists all have a higher percentage of low-cost carriers arriving in their countries to be able to achieve that number.”

“We simply haven’t built enough hotel rooms in Egypt over the past few years,” he added, saying that there were only 210,000 rooms in Egypt.

“We need just 300,000 rooms, $30 billion of investments in rooms, and probably similar amounts of investments in customer experiences. Spread the word — and it is a great industry to invest in,” Issa said to the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt.

He did, however, emphasize that he was pleased with the prospects saying: “Overall, I can report that the state of the industry is on the right path.”

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