Israeli aggression on Lebanon redirects regional tourism
CAIRO: Experts in the field of investment in Egypt have confirmed that the Israeli attacks on Lebanon will affect tourism and investments, as tourists who previously planned to head to Israel and Lebanon turn to Egypt as a vacationing haven.
As a result of this sudden growth in the tourism sector, the government entities involved (such as the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Investment) have requested that the government step up tourism development projects currently in the works, in addition to campaigns that promote Egypt as a premier holiday destination.
“Israel’s aggression upon Lebanon is having a big impact on tourism and investments coming from abroad because the two countries are now ‘infected’ and oppressed, Dr. Sabry Abu Zaid, previous head of Suez Canal Trade and dean of the Higher Institute of Marketing was quoted as saying in Al Ahram newspaper.
According to Abu Zaid, the government should support industries that are currently impaired as a result of the conflict in the region, such as the oil industry, in particular, as petroleum prices skyrocket and Egypt relies heavily on the importation of petroleum-related products and services.
Simultaneously, the government should further support and encourage the service industry in Egypt, with special emphasis placed on local and regional tourists, as they are now flocking to the country in greater numbers, he stated.
Tourists from the Gulf visiting Egypt went up 15 percent between the months of January to June this year. Qatar recorded an 86.9 percent jump in tourists visiting Egypt, followed by the 17.4 percent coming from Palestine, and 11.9 percent from the UAE. Furthermore, these tourists are staying in the country for longer periods of time, rising 63.8 percent, 26.9 percent and 25.1 percent respectively.
Egypt also witnessed an 8.9 percent increase in Saudi Arabian visitors, or more than 42,000 visitors in six months, thus cementing its position as the leader in the regional market and the fourth largest tourist nation after Germany (the largest), England and Italy.
Bahraini arrivals also increased by 8.3 percent, reaching 1,574 visitors. Lebanese and Libyan tourists also increased, with double-digit growth records.
“Cairo remains the busiest route from Dubai by volume and we are seeing more short breaks, thanks to the increasing number of flights in and out of the UAE, Munir Sherwani, manager of Al Rais Holidays was quoted as saying on www.ameinfo.com.
According to an Airlink International spokesperson, the heavy travel demands and increase in flights from the UAE on global airlines is also due to the fact that “Egypt is one of the most tourism-friendly destinations all year-round due to its diverse attractions and natural beauty.
Aside from the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, other factor contributing to tourism growth include the ‘Nawart Masr’ (You Light Up Egypt!) campaign that targeted Arab tourists, successfully highlighting the cultural similarities between Egypt and other Arab nations. Other factors include celebrities acting as spokespersons for the country, coined ‘tourism ambassadors,’ who have been featured in advertising campaigns; growth in airline routes to and from Egypt; as well as the fact that the summer is synonymous with vacations.
The government also carried out a road show in nine Arab countries earlier this year and is investing heavily in tourism development and tourism-related projects in order to meet the rise in tourists to the country as well as broaden the regional and international appearance of the nation.
Yet, beyond the fanfare and optimism, the conflicts in the region, highlighted by the recent attacks on Lebanon, might not have a positive affect on foreign investments in the country, according to Abu Zaid.
“Despite continuous profit and revenue growth in Egypt, which can be attributed to our geographic location, the Arab region as a whole is now suffering in terms of investment growth coming from foreign investors, who now see the region as one that is stricken by war and conflict and weighed down and marred by political instability, Abu Zaid was quoted as saying.