The private sector will play a vital role in the strengthening Egypt’s tourism sector and making it an attractive place to do business, tourism minister Her Excellency Rania al-Mashat told last week’s International Tourism and Crisis Management Summit.

The country’s first woman minister of tourism, who was appointed in January, told delegates that tourism can be a force to persuade her fellow countrymen and women who have left to seek a better life overseas return.

“Since 2011 we have lost a lot of good talent in good sectors. People have travelled abroad for a better life or more positive outlook. I feel tourism can be a catalyst to bring people back. It’s a way to mobilise people around a common goal which is not just important for Egypt but for the whole region.”

Al-Mashat, a renowned economist and central banker, said the private sector, which owns nearly all of the tourism sector in Egypt, has a central role to play in putting the destination back on the map.

“In economies we have something called planning by doing. The more you go through issues, the stronger you become and the better you are.

“The Egyptian tourism sector is 98% privately owned. The presence of the government is close to zero, we just regulate and facilitate. The private sector is very good at trying to cut their losses to make sure they optimise their resources with the best cost efficiency. That has provided the country with a lot of strength.”

Egypt will focus on communicating its strong ‘trademark’ brand as a visitor destination, added al-Mashat. “Outreach, engagement, peer to peer discussion, all are very important aspects of how we make this sector more resilient,” she said.

A new $1 billion museum in Cairo with the pyramids as a backdrop, that is due to enter in 2020, was an “important investment”, added al-Mashat. “We consider it a gift to the world,” she said.

Egypt tourism has been rebounding well with strong growth last year and in the early part of 2018 and al-Hashat said this was down to a sense of shared ownership of the sector between private and public stakeholders.

“Because people have been through different challenges time and again the sector has been extremely strong making sure employment continues to happen and that the hotel infrastructure continues to be intact. Success depends on its people and its stakeholders,” she said.

GalleryITCMS 2018