The ambiguity of bookings led many hotels in Cairo to refrain from organising New Year’s Eve concerts, and have chosen to instead limit their celebrations to offering different menus.
In tourism cities like Luxor and Aswan, bookings have slightly increased—though occupancy rates are still modest compared to the rates pre-2011.
Former head of the Chamber of Tourism Establishments of the Egyptian Tourism Federation, Mohamed Ayoub, said that the sector is frustrated due to the fall in occupancy rates and inflow from Arab and foreign countries.
He added that the confusion over Egyptian-Saudi relations increased the fear of tourism workers, especially concerning Christmas and New Year’s concerts and celebrations, as Saudi tourists usually accounted for most occupancies this season.
Regional general manager at Egypt Safir International Hotel, Hussein Shoukry, said that Christmas and new year bookings are usually “last-minute”. He noted that this year Safir Group limited celebrations to designing a new menu with different items.
He pointed out that the lowest price for dinner set at Safir is EGP 450 per person, going up to EGP 700 per person.
He noted that the booking situation will become clearer before the celebrations begin. “Nothing can be expected now,” he stressed, adding that he is optimistic with the rates since they are above average.
A marketing official at Semiramis Hotel said they are currently considering contracting with Nicole Saba and belly dancer Sofinar for the celebrations on New Year’s Eve and Christmas. He noted that prices will be set according to the contracts with both celebrities.
He said, however, that the hotel management still did not make a final decision on the concerts. “We could settle for a DJ if negotiations fail,” he added.
Five-star tourist restaurants have raised their prices by 40% in preparation for Christmas.
Former vice chairperson of the Tourist Hotels Division at the Cairo Chamber of Commerce Nagy Erian said that Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations are amongst the best-selling concerts that drive bookings up, especially for five-star hotels. “Occupancy rates usually hit 90%,” he added.
He noted that four-star establishments see a turnover of 70%, while lower-class hotels may not mark any difference.
Erian said that five-star hotels are now racing to hire artists for the celebrations, noting that prices change according to the contract with the hired artists.
He pointed out that prices may be hiked up by 40% at least compared to last year, on the back of the rising operational costs and the price of raw materials after the flotation of the Egyptian pound, next to the sugar shortage which saw its price raised by 50%.
Amin Sabla, chairperson of the Chamber of Tourism Establishments of the Egyptian Tourism Federation, also agreed, saying that New Year’s Eve and Christmas celebrations often increase demand on tourist facilities.
In his opinion, however, the current economic conditions will not impact the appetite of citizens for celebration. “Tourism establishments target a segment of society that is not impacted by the current circumstances,” he explained.
He pointed out that tourist facilities at hotels require permits from the Ministry of Tourism on the contrary to those separate from hotels, which do not require approvals.
Luxor and Aswan saw most booking costs hikes among all Egyptian tourism cities.
The head of the Chamber of Tourism Companies in Luxor, Tharwat Agamy, said the average price per person for New Year’s Eve and Christmas celebrations reaches $50, with no cap on how high the price may go.
He added that current occupancy rates in Aswan stand at around 11%, expecting them to hit 15% during the celebrations. He noted that current visitors are Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Germans, and British.
Samir Isaac, former chairperson of the Tourism Companies Chamber in Luxor, also agreed with Agamy on the $50 average per person. He said the price may increase in the coming days, as tourism in Luxor and Aswan usually peaks in the winter season.
He pointed out that German tourists account for the highest occupancy rate in Luxor now, followed by foreigners living in Egypt.
He said that Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations will have set costs penned by hotel owners.
The chamber serves as a liaison between hotels and the Ministry of Tourism.