Egypt will guarantee payment for half the seats on UK flights to Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada and Luxor this summer and maintain the subsidy to Luxor this winter.
New tourism minister Khaled Ramy confirmed: “We will continue incentivising the flights till October 31 from all UK airports. Incentives to Sharm will stop from November 1. But subsidies to Luxor and the Nile valley will remain. We may increase [incentives] to the Nile.”
The guarantee extends to charter and scheduled operators, including easyJet.
Ramy, former director of the Egyptian Tourist Office in London, took over as minister in March. He was in the UK to meet operators this week and said: “We are going to talk about how we go back to the numbers of 2010.” UK arrivals last year were 905,000, against 1.3 million in 2010.
The minister confirmed Ryanair could begin Egypt flights other than from Ireland, but would face a $4,000 per flight levy as a third-party operator. Ramy said: “We are looking into this.”
UK summer bookings were doing “well”, he said, and winter 2015-16 bookings “very well” following an 18% increase in arrivals year on year in January to April. But Ramy said: “We need to bring customers back to Aswan and Luxor.” He reported average occupancy of 70% in Hurghada and 60% in Sharm in April but 20% in Luxor.
Ramy promised a major marketing campaign from August, saying it would have “a huge budget” and “demonstrate to the whole world we are back”.
He described confusion over proposed changes to Egypt’s visa policy earlier this year as “a public mess”.
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