Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism (MoT) has approved new plans to target tourists from the Arab Gulf starting after the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
The plan includes initiatives by the government, as well as the country’s flagship carrier, EgyptAir, and the Chamber of Tourism Establishments, to restore tourist turnout especially in Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurgada and Marsa Alam.
Vacation planners serving Gulf tourists can enjoy incentives including discounts on EgyptAir flights as well as at some facilities, with the aim of luring larger numbers of Arab tourists to the country.
The ministry is also planning to launch a “societal dialogue” project with Sinai residents, to promote Bedouin activities like camel racing to attract Arab tourism, said Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou.
The four-year plan encompasses construction of a handcraft workshop in a North Sinai city to market Bedouin products domestically and internationally, and a centre presenting Bedouin heritage.
President of the Egyptian Tourism Federations (ETF) Elhamy ElZayat told state-run news agency MENA that they are creating a plan targeting foreign markets to attract more tourism to Egypt.
“In order to gain speedy profits we will start by attracting the traditional tourist markets, which could rescue the sector in cities rich with monuments, especially Luxor, the world’s greatest open air museum, Aswan and Cairo,” ElZayat said.
Chairman of the Touristic Investors Association in South Sinai Hesham Ali also emphasised the importance of Arab Gulf tourism.
“The Arab tourist is a profit maker,” he said, adding: “Summer is the Arab vacation season, so I think it will be a good move to attract them.”
Ali asserted that numbers of Gulf tourists would increase only through “promotional campaigns” in Arab countries, yet he cautioned against extra incentives or discounts, saying “Egypt is the cheapest tourist destination ever.”
Deputy Head of the Chamber of Hotels Hani El-Saher said that Egypt should do anything speedily to save this summer season before it ends, but cautioned: “before anything we should wonder if the country is ready for tourism or not, especially with the current violence and turmoil in streets.”
The struggling tourism sector, which employs about 2.83 million, has been further stressed following the 30 June protests, as attacks continue in the Sinai Peninsula since former president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster on 3 July.