Egypt re­cov­ery mak­ing head­way

Travel Bulletin - - ISSUES & TRENDS -

Egypt’s tourism in­dus­try fell off the radar in the wake of the Arab Spring in 2011, but signs of a re­vival are start­ing to emerge. Tourists are re­turn­ing to Egypt in droves with the latest gov­ern­ment fig­ures show­ing tourist ar­rivals shot up nearly 70% in the third quar­ter of 2014 com­pared with the same pe­riod the pre­vi­ous year. To­tal ar­rivals peaked at 14.7 mil­lion in 2010 prior to the po­lit­i­cal up­heaval, with num­bers dip­ping to 9.4 mil­lion last year. But tourism op­er­a­tors are con­fi­dent that 2015 holds all the mark­ers of a strong re­cov­ery, with visi­tors from Europe and the US re­turn­ing in num­bers. Aus­tralians, how­ever, have been slow to re­turn. Speak­ing with trav­el­bul­letin, A&K man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Su­jata Ra­man said there was “strong growth” for Egypt com­ing out of the US mar­ket as dis­count air­fares and travel spe­cials caught the eye of Amer­i­can trav­ellers. But in­ter­est was still lag­ging among Aus­tralian trav­ellers, she added. “All op­er­a­tors are say­ing they’re back in Egypt and busi­ness is grow­ing strongly, but what re­ally sur­prises me is that the US is do­ing well and we are not see­ing the same with Aus­tralians,” she said. “This is one of the first times that I have no­ticed this hap­pen as Amer­i­cans are gen­er­ally more cau­tious than Aus­tralians.” Aus­tralian ar­rivals are on the rise, with A&K re­port­ing a 56% bump in visi­tor num­bers over the past 12 months. But Ra­man said the fig­ures leave much to be de­sired. “A 56% in­crease in growth to any des­ti­na­tion is great, but we’re talk­ing about small num­bers and rev­enue is down to about 10% of what it was in the past,” she said, adding that visi­tor num­bers had dwin­dled to just 100 pas­sen­gers from around 1000 since 2010. Ra­man was con­fi­dent Egypt would re­claim its glory days. How­ever with the Egyp­tian gov­ern­ment last month pulling the pin on tourist visas on ar­rival for in­di­vid­ual trav­ellers, she said it may be some time un­til Egypt’s tourism in­dus­try finds its feet. “I’m not sure what it will take for Aus­tralians to re­turn, but I don’t think more ag­gres­sive spe­cials will make much of a dif­fer­ence be­cause price point is not a de­ter­min­ing fac­tor for Aus­tralians,” she said. “Peo­ple need to feel that it is a sta­ble des­ti­na­tion and it will take time for peo­ple’s per­cep­tions to change.” Bun­nik Tours agreed that the Aus­tralia mar­ket was slower to re­turn to Egypt than other des­ti­na­tions, with Euro­pean ar­rivals out­shin­ing Aus­tralian num­bers. While Aus­tralian book­ings are still down on 2010 lev­els, Bun­nik Tours re­ported a 40%

Peo­ple need to feel that it is a sta­ble des­ti­na­tion and it will take time for peo­ple’s change’ per­cep­tions to

in­crease in ar­rivals for the first five months of 2014 com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year. “The Euro­pean mar­ket has been the first to re­turn to Egypt and it has come back stronger, but we are now see­ing the Aus­tralia mar­ket is com­ing back,” he said. Bun­nik con­ceded that all mar­kets were still strug­gling on pre­vi­ous lev­els, but said Aus­tralians were tak­ing up dis­count of­fers. The op­er­a­tor also has se­cured “strong” for­ward book­ings for 2016 fol­low­ing the re­cent soft launch of its latest Egypt brochure. Bun­nik was un­con­cerned about Aus­tralia’s sub­dued book­ing num­bers com­pared to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, in­sist­ing that Euro­peans con­sider Egypt to be a short beach hol­i­day while Aus­tralians see it as a bucket list item. “We’re ex­pect­ing Egypt to fi­nally turn the cor­ner, and if any­thing, now is a good time for Aus­tralians to travel to see the sights be­fore the crowds re­turn,” he told trav­el­bul­letin. Travel Cor­po­ra­tion brands Trafal­gar, In­sight Va­ca­tions and Con­tiki all re­turned to Egypt in re­cent months, with all op­er­a­tors re­port­ing “strong growth” in in­ter­est from Aus­tralian trav­ellers. All op­er­a­tors agreed that po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity in Egypt had sta­bilised and the coun­try was now ready to welcome tourists. “The time is right and de­mand is high,” Con­tiki man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ka­t­rina Barry said.

The Sphinx and Pyra­mid of Khafre, Filip Maljkovic CC:

Su­jata Ra­man

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