The new UK director of the Egyptian State Tourist Office has vowed to match all spending by UK tour operators who advertise holidays in Egypt following a downturn in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring’.
The destination first started offering operators this matched funding deal eight years ago and it proved successful so the destination has renewed its pledge as it targets a revival of UK visitors.
Omayma El Husseini, Egyptian State Tourist Office director, said the tourist board would also be focusing on offering more fam trips and workshops to travel agents.
Egypt suffered its first drop in UK visitor numbers in 10 years in 2011 due to the aftermath of last year’s revolution that swept president Hosni Mubarak from power.
The matched funds will be provided by the Egyptian ministry of tourism and will depend on the size of the tour operator and the volume of tourists they flew out to Egypt in the previous year.
El Husseini, who was appointed as the new UK director in March, said she was seeking to return Egyptian tourism to pre-revolution levels.
“I’m really looking towards the media and advertising side of it with a joint advertising programme with operators.
“Once the revolution is over and elections have happened [at the end of May] it will be business as usual.”
At a reception at the Egyptian Embassy in London, Hatem Seif El Nasr Egyptian ambassador to the UK, told Travel Weekly: “We want to re-energise Egypt.
“The British market is so vital to our tourism industry and Egyptians have a natural fondness for the Brits.
“I only see the future of tourism to Egypt very positively and moving in a forward direction. We hope by July, the situation will be totally stable and uncertainty will be behind us.”
The ambassador acknowledged Britain as the second biggest source market for Egypt, just behind Russia, but said that, on average, Britons spend more time in the country and usually spend more.
In 2010 the number of British arrivals to Egypt hit 1,455,906, but by 2011 this figure had dropped to 1,034,413 due to the troubles in Egypt associated with the revolution – the first drop in almost ten years.
British tourism to Egypt had been growing at a steady rate since the turn of the century. In 2000 the number of British arrivals was at 378,355 and by 2006 arrivals had broken the one million mark.
Although the Arab Spring has damaged tourism to Egypt, those specialising in Egyptian travel are optimistic about the future.
Jennette Bradbury, managing director of Egyptian Experience, said: “Egypt is ready for tourism. They need to make sure they are affordable. It’s vitally important.
“The Egyptian government need to counteract how Egypt is being perceived by the media.”
Prince Islam El-Sawy, director of El-Sawy Travel, said: “The Egyptians are very eager. They are opening their arms, ready to receive tourism and it’s going to be offering the best prices.”
“Things have calmed down,” said Frangelica Flook, PR consultant for Abercrombie & Kent. “People are feeling much more confident about it.
“I think it will bounce back very quickly, Egypt is always on people’s wish lists. All the tourist infrastructure is still there.”
The pledge by Egypt to match funds comes after Abta and Aito made a similar plea to the Greek government to boost tourism hit by its recent troubles prompted by austerity measures.
The Greek National Tourism Organisation is poised to give its response.
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